REVEALED: Robbers target South Yorkshire businesses nearly 500 times in last three years
Robbers targeted businesses nearly 500 times across South Yorkshire in the last three years - leading to calls for more to be done to crackdown on the crime.
Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act revealed 498 incidents since 2015 and prompted one shopkeeper, who has been the repeated victim of attacks, to call for harsher punishments for robbers.
READ MORE: Man threatened staff with knife in Sheffield shopSajjad Ahmed Chaudhry has been targeted by robbers five times in the last two decades at his National News shop in Sharrow and as recent as January wrestled a gun from armed raiders.
The 47-year-old said offenders should be publicly shamed and made to wear clothing explaining what crimes they have committed in the street.
He said: "When they get community service you should know what they have done, it should be written on them.
"It would shame them and they might not do it again then. They get off too lightly these days."
Last year Sheffield had the highest number of robberies in South Yorkshire with 99 incidents, followed by Doncaster with 38, then Barnsley with 32 and Rotherham with 25. One incident was not recorded.
READ MORE: Brave Sheffield shop owner wrestles gun from armed robbersThe 2017 annual figures for South Yorkshire of 195 were higher than in the previous two years. There were 166 in 2016 and 137 in 2015.
The figures prompted shadow policing minister and Sheffield MP Louise Haigh to call for more action from the Government to support police in tackling these crimes.
Ms Haigh said: “The rising levels of crime taking place against businesses in South Yorkshire is alarming.
“These crimes can take a heavy toll on small businesses, yet after eight years of brutal cuts some police forces have now been forced to take the difficult decision not to even respond to some shop thefts, let alone carry out an adequate investigation.”
“The Tories have to stop turning a blind eye to crime and give the police the resources they need to fight it.”
South Yorkshire Police said the force has launched a number of initiatives aimed at tackling business crime.
Temporary detective chief inspector Delphine Waring, force lead for business crime, said: “Officers and police community support officers across the county make every effort to visit businesses in their local area to offer crime prevention advice and follow up on any concerns they may have.
READ MORE: Woman and two children treated after Sheffield flat fire“Throughout April, all of our PCSOs will also be receiving crime reduction training, which includes inputs on business and cyber-crime."
Dr Alan Billings, police and crime commissioner for South Yorkshire, added: "Crime against business is a serious issue and both my office and the police have treated it as such.
"Much of this is on-line and one of the problems is persuading businesses that they are potential victims as the police have the expertise to help.
“We have worked with groups such as the chambers of commerce to raise levels of awareness at breakfast meetings.”