BELEAGUERED business-owners have spoken of their frustration after the blight of burglaries and break-ins has left them counting the cost.

One Bradford MP says the problem shows how important ‘bobbies on the beat’ are in the face of policing cuts.

Last year it emerged the district has lost more than 100 officers over the past five years and West Yorkshire more than 1,000 in the same period.

A recruitment drive has started but it will not return numbers to previous levels.

Earlier this month, crime-hit Wyke traders issued a desperate plea for more to be done to tackle crime after the village was hit by a spate of raids.

The problem forced Jessica Evans, 27, to consider permanently shutting up shop when her businesses - Gifts by the Sweetie People and The Ice Cream People - were targeted five times.

Two slush machines valued at £6,000 were stolen in the last raid, which happened the week before last.

And while her businesses will stay open for now, she said: “We’re struggling, the claims are still going through. It’s difficult.”

After concerns were raised in Wyke, other business owners report that their shops had also fallen victim to similar crimes.

Michelle Walker, 53, who runs Greengates Sandwich Shop in Harrogate Road said it had been going on in the area for about two months.

“There have been a number of burglaries in Greengates, Thackley and Idle area. I did some sums of the ones I knew of and I got to 13 - that’s only the ones I know of.”

Her shop was targeted about six weeks ago, when the culprits pulled an iron gate from the wall, smashed the glass from the door and crawled in. They got away with petty cash, tips, as well as chocolate and sweets.

“It’s the worry of ‘what am I going to come into?’ You can drive around and you see there’s windows boarded up,” she said.

“We need more police presence, even if it’s just for a period of time. It may put people at ease and it may also put the criminals off having a go at various businesses.”

Enza Puzio, 35, owns Room 907. It is on the same row as the sandwich shop and also fell victim to a break-in about two weeks ago.

“They’ve been trying to get in for a long time,” Miss Puzio said. “This time, they took the door off the hinges with a crowbar and crawled through a really small space.

“Our neighbours saw them getting in, police came in a couple of minutes, but they didn’t enter the building. The man was in here. It cost £400 because he went out through the roof.

“It’s the disappointment, just knowing that someone has been in. Staff felt violated and unsafe. It’s a big issue, someone really does seem to be targeting the businesses round here. On that day, it made me feel ‘do I really want to run a business round here?’ I’d like to see police do something about it.”

A newsagent in the Wibsey area, who asked not to be named, said his business had been targeted in May, in a raid in which cash and thousands of pounds of cigarettes were stolen.

He says it is an ongoing issue which started around four to five months ago.

“I was lucky I had some savings - if I didn’t have any money I would have ended up closing down,” he said.

“It’s having a very big impact. I would like to see more action from the police.”

Bradford South MP Judith Cummins said she is working closely with local businesses and has held a series of meetings to discuss their concerns about crime. She added that she will raise the concerns with police and Bradford Council and will hold further meetings with traders.

Bradford East MP Imran Hussain said he was concerned by the incidents in his constituency and would be speaking to West Yorkshire Police. He also urged people to report any information to officers.

He added: “These break-ins also raise the wider issue around the importance of full-time police officers on the beat, a role that the police service across the country is finding extremely difficult to fulfil with a loss of 20,000 officers nationally and a loss of £140 million from West Yorkshire Police’s budget since 2010 because of Home Office cuts.”

Chief Inspector Jo Beecroft, neighbourhoods lead for Bradford District, said all reports of retail crime were taken seriously and urged people to report this type of crime to the police so areas where further action needs to be taken are highlighted.

A spokesman for Bradford Chamber of Commerce said it was vital that all incidents are reported to police, so hotspots can be identified and “stretched” resources can be targeted to where they are most needed.

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said he was investing, where possible, into neighbourhood policing.

"Thriving businesses are key to healthy communities and if we are to create jobs and improve people's lives here in West Yorkshire we need local businesses to do well in safe environments," he said.

"Working with partners to ensure that crime prevention is at the forefront of all our efforts is essential, as is educating businesses on how to prevent crime from happening in the first place.

"Since being elected as West Yorkshire’s PCC I have invested wherever possible into neighbourhood policing against a very tight financial backdrop, but West Yorkshire Police Crime Prevention Officers also continue to work with businesses in Bradford.

"These officers provide direct support to local businesses and householders to advise on how they can better protect themselves from thieves and opportunists."