Southampton garage owner 'embarrassed' after customers' cars are torched in arson attack
WATCH: ITV News Meridian's Richard Slee talks to concerned garage owners in Southampton.
A garage owner from Southampton has spoken of his devastation after his business was targetted in a spate of arson attacks.
Ian Faulkner, of South Hants Garage Services, said he was 'embarrassed' after three of his customers' cars were set alight in the early hours of Saturday morning (4th March).
Each car was worth thousands of pounds.
He said: "We pride ourselves in looking after our customers and their vehicles and there's something like this which is outside our control."
It's the first time he's experienced anything like this in thirty-four years in business.
Acting Inspector Jabr Shaladan from the Southampton Central Neighbourhoods Policing Team said: “We are aware of the issues in Empress Road and have extensive plans in place to reduce crime in the area.
“Working with partners, we have secured funding for three additional CCTV cameras in Empress Road, which will help increase security on top of the extra patrols we carry out here regularly.
“We also are in the process of setting up a Businesswatch scheme in the area and will continue to raise the issues faced here - including abandoned cars - with our partners to make sure that together we are doing all we can to make the area safer for local businesses and residents.”
But Ian's not the only one affected.
Fellow garage owner Fausto Caprino is increasingly concerned after other cars were torched in an area outside - but not belonging to - his business.
Fausto Caprino, who runs Taj Auto Tech, said he's reported abandoned vehicles near his business to police on previous occasions.
The business was also the victim of a burglary last year, but Fausto says that despite providing CCTV footage the police did not investigate.
Fellow business owner Gurmel Singh added: "I'm having to be more secure with my cars every night trying to get them all in or park them somewhere else. Asking people to look after them so, yeah, it's a bit scary."
Both Gurmel and Ian are disappointed over the police's response to this latest incident.
Ian said: "They didn't contact me so it was quite a shock when I turned up here (on) Saturday morning.
"(I've heard) nothing at all since... I would have expected at least a courtesy visit really."
Gurmel added: "They don't want to know. If we were to do something ourselves, take control of it, then they would come running."
A Hampshire Police spokesperson said: “We received reports of several vehicles and bins being set alight in and around Empress Road, Imperial Road, and Dukes Road in early hours of Saturday, 4 March.
“This included a report of cars burnt out and signage damaged at a garage in the Carlton Commerce Centre.
“These incidents were initially filed due to a lack of investigative opportunities.
“Officers from Southampton Central’s Neighbourhoods Policing Team have since reviewed the incidents and will continue to conduct enquiries and extra patrols in the area.
“Anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area at the time, has information which could assist us or has CCTV, dash cam, ring doorbell or mobile phone footage of the incidents can call us on 101 or report online via our website.”
Regarding the burglary at Taj Auto Tech, they added: “We investigated a report that commercial premises in Empress Road were broken into on 4 August, 2022, causing £6,000 of damage to the rear door. A search was carried out but nothing was stolen.
"A 29-year-old man was arrested in connection with this incident, but was released with no further action to be taken.
“Viable lines of enquiry were followed up and the incident has since been filed.”