The brother of London district member Sanjay Patel, owner of Hornchurch News in Romford, was hospitalised after confronting shoplifters this month.

Patel has been dealing with groups of five to 10 people stealing drinks and biscuits from his shop for the past six months. “Children from nearby schools and colleges come into my shop, take stock and walk out without paying,” he said.

On 15 November, Patel’s brother stopped the thieves leaving the shop by standing at the door. 

“Enough is enough, so my brother demanded they pay. But they threatened to punch him if he didn’t get out of their way. He refused, so they attacked him. He went to hospital with a fractured eye socket.”

Local police arrived at the scene quickly, but those in question are yet to be caught. “The police looked over the CCTV footage and said they would circulate the pictures,” said Patel. “They haven’t found anyone.”

Patel’s family is scared to be in the shop but they are unable to close. “Thankfully, my brother is okay, but he is scared,” said Patel. “We are all scared. Anything can happen at any time, but I have to keep the shop open as I have a paper round.”

Patel is working with the NFRN to put a stop to the issue. “We don’t want to continue our business like this; everyone needs to get involved to stop this,” he said.

London district president Nilesh Patel added: “What once was a minor crime isn’t minor any more, it has escalated. If a crime costs under £50, the police don’t want to know. What has happened is unacceptable.”

Police forces advise store owners not to confront shoplifters if there is a risk of a violent confrontation.

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