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Monday, 15 August 2016

Armed raid on popular Burnham Beeches cafe

Raiders escape on mountain bikes along leafy roads

Report and photographs: Paul Janik

A dangerous man held his knife to the throat of a 19 years-old young woman to force the cafe's owner to hand-over the day's takings. Petrified customers fled.

The man and his two male look-out accomplices then escaped on mountain bikes. The daily shortage of police in the area ensured the raiders successfully disappeared without trace - ready to re-offend.

The Beeches Cafe

Burnham Beeches cafe is popular with hundreds of thousands of visitors to The Beeches, a preserved woodland of primarily Beech trees, owned by a confused legal entity controlled by the City of London, the only non-standard Borough Council in London.

The cafe is next to the large open space on the western fringe of Farnham Common's Broadway shopping centre. Originally the cafe was situated on the south side of The Beeches in a dell, a hollow in the ground, and named the Dell Cafe. It was outside Burnham Beeches open-air swimming pool - a magnet for youngsters from many miles around. However the glorious swimming pool complex was sold for housing by owner John Pinks, depriving a very large area of a greatly appreciated and treasured place full of happy and enjoyable experiences, and now distant memories.

The Raid

The armed raid happened at 17:30 on Friday, 12 August, shortly before the cafe closed for the day.

The knife threatening raider, who might have killed his frighten but brave hostage if the cash was not handed-over, was desperate for the money.

Some customers claimed the gang have been stalking the cafe for several days before the raid.

Police issued this description of the knife man:.

  • White male
  • Height: 5ft 11ins (1m80)
  • Build: slim
  • Age: circa 40's - although some customers say 20's to 30's
  • Black balaclava
  • White baseball cap with red and black details
  • White long sleeved top with blue lines on it
  • Black tracksuit trousers
  • Wearing spectacles (glasses) underneath his balaclava
  • Bicycle: mountain bike, silver colour, with black writing on it
The escaping raiders cycled along this picturesque route.

The raiders cycled away from the cafe, travelling westwards along the Beeches road towards the first crossroads where they turned left and headed south, along Sir Henry Peek's Drive, towards the top (northern) end of Crown Lane by Caldicott School.

This was the first raid the cafe experienced in the 8 years since the new owner acquired the business.

Thames Valley Police do not have a good record of arresting the increasing quality of primarily convenience shop raiders. Branching out to raiding cafes is a worrying new trend.

Where, oh where, are the police when you really need them ? Obviously not in this part of Buckinghamshire.