herald

Friday 9 December 2016

'Groups of kids just come in and steal stuff in front of me' - says battered and bruised shopkeeper

Days shop-owner comes home from work with blood on his face and bruises on his body

Salem Habeeb, whose shop is an almost daily target for thieves Picture: Steve Humphreys
Salem Habeeb, whose shop is an almost daily target for thieves Picture: Steve Humphreys
the XL shop on Parnell Street
Teenagers and men entering the XL shop on Parnell Street which has been hit by shoplifters on a regular basis

Two brothers who opened a city centre grocery store only two months ago fear they could be put out of business because of brazen thugs and thieves.

Salem Habeeb and his brother Ronak Bhavsar said they have been terrorised at their XL Stop & Shop on Parnell Street, which has been robbed almost every day.

In one incident, thugs used an iron bar to attack Mr Habeeb after he chased them from the premises.

Someone had stolen his phone, which contained videos of his newborn daughter which were precious to him.

Mr Habeeb (37), originally from India, said the business is running at a loss because of the constant thefts, and if they continue he will have to close the place by the end of the summer.

Terrifying

"Kids come in and take stuff in front of me and they say, 'You can't touch us'. I threaten to ring the guards and they say, 'The guards can't do anything, I'm only 17'.

"I've lived here for 17 years and all I want to do is provide a good life for my family and four children, but I fear that one day I won't make it home to my kids."

Mr Habeeb said his shop is consistently targeted by groups of youths.

"I want the guards to do something when they see a gang of guys outside my shop, they are obviously up to no good," he added.

Mr Habeeb said the last two months have been terrifying for his family as there were days when he would come home from work with blood on his face and bruises all over his body.

Salem Habeeb, whose shop is an almost daily target for thieves Picture: Steve Humphreys
Salem Habeeb, whose shop is an almost daily target for thieves Picture: Steve Humphreys

The most frightening incident was when he was recently hit with an iron bar that had been lifted from a nearby building site.

Mr Habeeb chased after the gang who had stolen from his shop, but was knocked unconscious after being hit across the back of the head.

An ambulance arrived at the scene within 10 minutes, but the emergency response time was not always so quick, he said.

"Sometimes I call the guards after thefts and it takes two hours for them to come to see me," he said.

"If somebody comes with a knife they will stab you and kill you before the guards come to you."

Asked if he would consider hiring a guard for the shop, he said he could not afford one as he is paying €850 a week in rent before he even looks at his bills and is already incurring significant losses.

Teenagers and men entering the XL shop on Parnell Street which has been hit by shoplifters on a regular basis
Teenagers and men entering the XL shop on Parnell Street which has been hit by shoplifters on a regular basis

Mr Habeeb previously worked as a caterer in St James's Hospital before deciding to open up his own business.

From speaking with other shopkeepers in the Parnell Street area, he said it is his belief that brazen theft is prevalent in shops run by foreign nationals.

Horrible

"A shop across the road also has the same problem. I consider myself Irish - all my kids are Dubs - but I still get called horrible things by people who come into my shop."

Food is the most frequently stolen item, and five thefts were reported to gardai in a two-week period last month.

A garda spokesman said the incidents are under investigation.

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