‘You get used to hearing stories like this’: Croydon’s small businesses ‘exhausted’ by crime after fatal stabbing

By Claudia Lee and Yann Tear

Small businesses in Croydon have said they have become “exhausted” by crime in the area following the fatal stabbing of a 22-year-old man on Friday. 

Rijkaard Salu Siafa, who is from Croydon, was stabbed to death in Fellmongers Yard – an alleyway off the busy Surrey Street. 

Police arrested a 20-year-old man in connection with the death of Rijkaard, who has been bailed until mid-June pending further enquiries.

Treenet King, who owns the Original Thai Food van in Surrey Street said: “My manager called me to tell me not to come to work.

“This is happening all the time now. I never let my son walk around on his own at night here anymore.

Rijkaard Salu Siafa (Picture: The Met)

“Sometimes there isn’t a reason and young people are getting stabbed. That alleyway is such a secret place all sorts of bad things happen down there.”

Police were called at around 6pm to the scene of the crime, where members of the public attempted to provide first aid to Rijkaard, before London Ambulance Service and London’s Air Ambulance arrived at the scene. Despite their efforts, he died at the scene.

Market traders and businesses owners said they had to close their stores on Friday evening, and were not allowed to reopen until late on Saturday as police scoured the scene.

Margot Wallace, a shop assistant at Dabners Pet Shop in Surrey Street, said: “The feeling is mainly one of shock really because it’s happened so close to us.

“There has been a bit of trouble down that area before, not long ago a couple of youths were seen having a row opposite our shop and they appeared to have knives. 

“Unfortunately, it’s Croydon and you get used to hearing stories like this. It’s not even hidden anymore. These things are happening in broad daylight when there are lots of potential witnesses about.”

Amrik Lamba, who owns Polski Supermarket, said business owners in the area were concerned by rising rates of shoplifting as well as violence (Picture: Claudia Lee)

Amrik Lamba, who owns Polski Supermarket in Surrey Street, said he saw a man running up the road before he was arrested by police officers.

Mr Lamba said: “My staff are scared and worried.”

The shopkeeper said businesses in the area are not only concerned by violence but also by rising levels of crime and shoplifting. 

He said: “People don’t care anymore, they come in and just walk out with bags full of stolen goods. It’s exhausting.”

It comes as new data shows shop owners reported a 400 per cent increase in thefts during 2023, setting a new record.  

The Association of Convenience Stores (ASC) said shops recorded 5.6million theft incidents last year, up from 1.1million the year previously. 

Mr Lamba said: “We have CCTV and everything but it doesn’t stop crime.”

The Met have asked for witnesses to help with the murder investigation.

Fellmongers Yard – an alleyway off the busy Surrey Street (Picture: Claudia Lee)

Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Lee, leading the investigation, and said: “Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with Rijkaard’s family and friends, who are coming to terms with his death following this shocking incident.

“This loss has ripped an irreparable hole in their family and I would ask their privacy is respected at this difficult time.

“I would also like to thank those members of the public who rushed to help Rijkaard in the immediate aftermath.

“If you saw events unfold but have yet to contact police, then I would ask you do so immediately.

“Residents will continue to see an increased police presence around the area of Fellmongers Yard. If you have any concerns, please speak to one of them.”

Anyone with information is asked to call 101 or ‘X’ @MetCC and quote CAD6022/12Apr. You can also provide information anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Pictured top: Surrey Street Market (Picture: Claudia Lee)

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