FURIOUS antique dealers in Brasted have vowed to 'fight back' after a smash-and-grab raid at their premises.
Courtyard Antiques was targeted by a lone thief last week who shoved a glass display cabinet to the ground before stuffing £5,000-worth of jewellery into his pockets and fleeing.
It is the only the second time the High Street premises have suffered a raid of this kind in its 30 years of trading, but the 22 dealers who work on the site have also been the victims of a series of burglaries.
Now Courtyard Antiques' manager, Hugh La Trobe, says enough is enough.
He is pledging to install an "all-singing, all-dancing" security system packed with night vision CCTV and motion sensors.
He told the Chronicle: "This is the last straw. We're sick of idiots who think it's fun to pop down to Courtyard Antiques and see what they can nick.
"I'm determined to stamp this out. I can't risk dealers being injured or losing stock to a bunch of people who think they have a right to help themselves to someone else's property."
The latest incident happened at 11.40am last Friday.
One witness told the Chronicle: "I was in the shop with one other person when the man strolled in.
"He just walked up to a glass cabinet and pushed it over.
"As it smashed on the ground, rings flew everywhere.
"He scooped up handfuls of jewellery and ran out.
"It was all so sudden – over in a matter of seconds.
"It was extremely frightening."
Mr La Trobe says Courtyard Antiques has been doing good business, even trading with the United States and Australia.
But he said the firm needs a large turnover to sustain its 22 dealers.
"We can't afford to sustain this level of loss," he said.
"I'm convinced these are professional jobs.
"The year before last we had a burglary that cost us £10,000 of stock – mostly jewellery and silver because it's easy for criminals to sell on.
"Over the years they've smashed through the walls, or climbed in through the roof by ripping the tiles off.
"The fact we have an alarm system that links through to the police doesn't seem to bother them."
Kent Police said they were hunting a slim, white man in his early 30s who was wearing a dark-coloured hat, a scarf and a green anorak.
Anyone with information should call the police on 101.