More than £5,000 stolen from GSF Car Parts Croydon

Philip Goater, assistant manager at GSF Car Parts Croydon, was locking up the hardware store in Coomber Way Industrial Estate, Beddington, on Thursday, February 29, when the robbery took place just before 6pm.

Three men threatened violence, stole a large amount of cash, and fled in a dark grey Kia Sportage.

Philip, 60, said: “I locked up the premises, set the alarm, locked the door and everything.

“And then this car pulled up behind me very quickly and three guys jumped out of it.

“They asked me to reopen the building again, shouting and screaming ‘where’s the money?’ and I ended up being pushed through to the safe room.

“I opened the door to the safe and they kept shouting ‘where’s the money?’

“We empty the safe daily anyway and I think they thought there was a lot more in there.”

No goods, hardware, or stocks were stolen from the building, but £5,500 was stolen in cash and cheques.

Philip said he remained “calm and collected” throughout, and handled the situation by “just doing what they asked”.

He added: “For what money they took, my life is worth a little bit more than that.”

Philip suspects that the three men most likely took his keys as he realised that they were no longer with him after the men had left.

As a result, all of the locks had to be changed for the building.

“It was a bit scary,” Philip added. “They were pushing me around a lot, against the doors and on the floors.

“I didn’t want to die. I just gave them the money and whatever else they wanted.

“It was literally all over in ten minutes – they were out, and they were gone.”     

Philip returned to work the very next day and explained that he’d much rather be doing his job than taking time off.

No arrests have been made as of today (March 4).

Detective Sergeant Paul Shakespeare of the Met’s South Area Borough Command Unit said: “We are aware this will have been very distressing for the man involved and members of the local community will, of, course be concerned to hear about this incident.

“We would like to reassure the public that we are taking this matter extremely seriously, we are investigating, and enquiries are ongoing.”

New security measures have been put in place at GSF Car Parts in Croydon.

William Barrett, branch manager, said: “Call points have been installed throughout the building so it gives us greater access to them and this is linked to the police.

“We’ve also got additional lighting added to the front of the building.

“At any point when access to the building is gained, this must be done by a minimum of three people at a time.”

Mr Barrett said that morale is still high and everybody has remained resilient, with the store re-opening the day after the incident.

He added: “We take the safeguarding of our colleagues very seriously.

“The company has been fantastic in implementing every possible measure for prevention, as well as safeguarding the employee.”

Shaun Kelly, Operations for GSF Car Parts, said: “GSF is proud to be an employer and active member of the business community in Croydon.

“We have a fantastic relationship with the local garages, national chains, and retail customers we supply, so we’re extremely disappointed this incident has occurred and it is now our priority to provide support to our teams and surrounding businesses to ensure this kind of action doesn’t happen again.

“We’ve taken further precautions to protect the team at our branches by removing all cash from our sites overnight, increasing secure cash collections with third-party providers, and installing new CCTV and panic alarms across our sites.

“We’re incredibly relieved that none of our GSF team members or customers were harmed in the incident at Croydon, and are pleased to report that the branch was back open for business as usual the morning after the event.

“Our teams have been briefed to remain extra vigilant and to immediately report any suspicious activity to the police, and we encourage surrounding businesses to do so too.”

Anyone who has any information is encouraged to call police on 101 quoting CAD 5673/29Feb.

If you would prefer to stay anonymous you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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