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LAMBETH: Yobs force Streatham pharmacy robot under cover
8:45am Monday 27th October 2008 in News
Repeated smash and grab robberies on a Streatham pharmacy have put its new hi-tech help service at risk– only a week after it was launched.
Streatham Pharmacy owner Nazim Ali spent thousands on installing a touch screen monitor in the window of his Streatham Hill shop last week, hoping it would become a valuable community resource for residents to research health problems.
The screen – which is accessible 24 hours a day - allows residents to research symptoms and treatments for some 4,000 different conditions and is the first to be installed in a southwest London.
But following two robberies in quick succession police and insurers have told Mr Ali he should put up shutters to protect his pharmacy at night – making the screen inaccessible to residents away from normal opening hours.
Both nighttime robberies, on Thursday, October 16, and Tuesday, October 22, saw thieves smash through the pharmacy door and make off with thousands of pounds in perfume.
Police warn without action there is a strong risk further robberies could occur in the run-up to Christmas.
Mr Ali said: "I'm angry and disappointed. I put this screen in the window to try and do something that would be really helpful for the community.
"I wanted people to be able to use it 24 hours a day but because of these criminals that may not be possible."
Mr Ali leaves his shop front uncovered at night because he also wants people to see his other technological wonder at work - his robot helper Matilda.
As featured in the Streatham Guardian on October 16, her mechanical arm works throughout the night preparing prescriptions to be collected the next day.
Mr Ali fears the £200,000 robot may also attract thieves' attention if it is left uncovered at night.
"It's a real shame," said Mr Ali. "I had hoped to put Streatham on the map with this kind of technology which you usually only see in the centre of London. Covering it up because of a crime risk cannot be good for the area."
The 39-year-old said he hoped Lambeth Council would strongly consider installing more CCTV in the area, especially if it hopes to attract more upmarket high street chains.
Mr Ali has now installed a CCTV camera outside his shop to put off robbers.
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