Noho firms Shift 4 and Edit Video were ramraided on Monday (30 September) last week by two youths who were caught by police after a high-speed car chase. Although nothing was taken on that occasion, only three weeks earlier Shift 4 was broken into and lost several items, including three cameras, a Sony DVW 790, an Ikegami and a brand new PD150 camcorder.
Shift 4 operations manager Phil Bernard said the two youths - aged 15 and 18 - had returned last week but were frightened off by the alarms on the second occasion. They then headed off to Edit Video but local residents raised the alarm and were able to give the police their vehicle's registration number.
Bernard said: 'What shocked me was the extent of the damage. It is costing us a fortune. Because of the ferocity of the attacks we have had to go out and completely fortify the place.'
Both Bernard and Edit Video managing director Henry Stein feared there would be an adverse effect on insurance premiums. 'If there is an epidemic, it will be bad for the whole industry because insurance premiums will go through the roof,' said Stein.
Hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of kit has been stolen in the past year from firms in London and the home counties. Stein said the police told him 'nearly every IT and media company in the West End has been done'.
Engineers' association Cheff has a website where stolen equipment can be registered to help identify it should it appear on the second-hand market. However, several of the victims believe the kit is being stolen to order and shipped abroad, perhaps to eastern Europe where many broadcast facilities are being built.
Lynx Digital has been targeted on a number of occasions, most recently suffering two break-ins in the past four weeks. However, sales and marketing manager Kunle Barker said on each occasion it was just kids stealing whatever they could grab such as laptops, flatscreens and on the last occasion, a graphics tablet, although they left behind the pen. 'It doesn't seem to be this steal to order thing that's going on elsewhere,' he said.