A CRIMEWAVE has hit Dorchester with nine businesses burgled in the space of a week.

Police have today reassured the community over the spree – and have urged residents and traders to report suspicious activity.

Nine business were targeted – with one business targeted twice in five days.

As well as cash being taken, businesses have been left with repair bills from the damage caused.

Becky Leeming, manager at The Body Shop, said staff at the targeted business are "very shaken up" about what has happened.

She said: "Our shop was broken into at quite an early time – it was about 6.45pm. Quite often I am working until after 7pm so it has given me a real shock. Our RSPCA charity box was taken and the burglars had tried to get into the safe and the till but failed.

"I can't believe so many businesses have been hit in this amount of time. And a lot of the business are independent ones.

"The people doing it have complete disregard to how much this will affect them."

The spree happened between Tuesday, January 17 and Tuesday, January 24.

A spokesman for Dorset Police said: "We received a reports of a break-in to a business unit at Burraton Square, Poundbury on January 17. The incident happened overnight and a laptop was reported stolen.

"Numerous incidents were reported to police on January 19. All of the businesses had been broken into sometime overnight on January 18.

"The Oak Rooms in Antelope Walk was broken into. Staff reported cash stolen.

"Walnut Grove Café on Durngate Street was also broken into but luckily nothing appeared to have been stolen.

"Cash was also stolen from Toni and Guy on the main high street.

"Again cash was stolen from Mystique in Antelope Walk.

"Another business was also targeted the same night – Potters Café on Durngate Street but nothing was reported stolen.

"On January 23, The Body Shop was reported to have been broken into overnight.

"A second break-in to Potters Café was reported on January 24. Again this occurred overnight.

"The Cornershop in Challacombe Square in Poundbury had cash stolen as well as a bottle of whisky and a bottle of vodka. This was reported on January 24 and again occurred overnight.

"The last reported break-in was Fix-It Phones on South Street overnight on January 23. Phones and cash were stolen."

Dorchester councillor Molly Rennie said: “Small businesses like this cannot afford to stand a loss. If we want them to survive we all have a responsibility of being shop watchers – being the eyes and ears of the community."

Another local councillor, David Taylor said: "My heart goes out to the victims of crime.

"Sadly it’s rich pickings for the area, as the town is becoming more prosperous it is sadly bringing crime with it, which is a great shame as we obviously have one of the most beautiful towns in the county.

"The police are working as hard as they can to get on top of it."

Phil Gordon of Dorchester BID said: “I have been extremely concerned to hear about the number of business that have had problems with break-ins in the past week.

"As a result of that I decided to have a meeting with the community support officers to see what we could do to help the situation. The things that came out of our discussion were the importance of businesses having their own CCTV systems. At the BID we urge any shop or business in the town, that hasn’t already, to get a four-camera affordable CCTV system. For example these can be purchased for around £150, which considering the cost of replacing a door can be around £800 it is worth it.

We always say historically we are very lucky in Dorchester we do not have a big problem with crime and we need to work together after these thefts and get back on top of the situation.”

A spokesman for Dorset Police added: "We would like to reassure the public in Dorchester that we are making active enquiries to identify and locate the offenders.

"We would ask the public to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious to police."

For further crime prevention advice visit dorset.police.uk/help-advice-crime-prevention/crime-prevention-help-advice/ Anyone with any information on the burglaries should contact Dorset Police on 101.