In popular parlance, misfortune comes in threes – a sort of unholy trio. Certainly, that proved to be the case at the premises run by the Varambhia family in Leicester. Granted there has been quite a break since the first incident in 1933 and the second two in 2016.
Working backwards, just before midnight on March 9 Subhash and his wife Rama, who live above their store – Snutch Newsagents – heard a loud crash which shook the building like an earthquake.
The noise was the result of a collision between a car – being chased by an unmarked police vehicle – and a three-tonne truck which wrecked the front of the store but, more traumatically, killed both passengers of the car. It cannot be anything other than horrific to wake up to find a van on fire inside your shopfront and two dead bodies on your doorstep.
The couple’s teenage son Ravi sent me some YouTube links of the Varambhias’ CCTV footage so I could see the crash for myself. Like I said, horrific.
As Subhash told the Leicester Mercury in the spread it carried about the carnage: “We were burgled about a month ago and we were initially worried they had come back.”
In the 26 February issue I reported on Subhash’s first-ever break-in and the fact that the CCTV footage he sent me of the thugs was very clear indeed. Keep that thought in your head.
Before I get back to that I must cover that 1933 incident – it looked rather quaint if that term can be applied to a vehicle overturned on your shop’s forecourt. Subhash sent me a picture of it, also courtesy of the Leicester Mercury where it got a full page. It must have been the only car around for miles in those days so how it managed to overturn outside the confectioner, bookseller and newsagent is now a mystery. It shows a huge crowd of pedestrians and people with bicycles.
Back to the present and that CCTV footage. Subhash tells me that he has been at loggerheads with the chief constable who told him after the burglary that there had been a full investigation but the poor-quality CCTV meant that no one had been apprehended.
Then he had a friendly chat with a passing bobby, showed him the footage and the copper said: “Oh, that’s so-and-so.”
So at least one of the so-and-sos is now arrested.
Subhash adds: “It gave me an insight into what ‘investigation’ means. It just means they made face-to-face contact with you. After the car crash they were full of praise for the quality of my CCTV.”
And the family has had enormous gratification from the reaction of the local community. When the news of two dead people at the premises spread they had huge feedback from people fearing that it was them (they have served the locals for 28 years). “Lovely customers,” they said.
As far as Rama is concerned, the real villain of the piece in this was Camelot. On hearing that transaction levels would be down – owing to the shop being shut and crawling with coppers – the company warned that if it was out of action for longer than 12 weeks, they would take the Scratchcards away. She didn’t like their attitude one bit.