Lawless: Boss tells of THREE weapon offences just weeks apart
- Credit: Sarah Burgess
Is violent crime spiralling in the city centre?
Incredible CCTV footage obtained by the Evening News shows numerous incidents that have taken place on a petrol forecourt in just ONE MONTH.
It is a terrifying snapshot of life for tough city businessman Ramanathan Uthayarajan, who's had to deal with THREE incidents involving guns and knives in that period at his Jet garage on Rose Lane.
The most shocking one in recent months happened first thing in the morning, he said.
Last month, a fight broke out between two men in his forecourt — with one of them being seriously injured. Although the Evening News has seen the footage we cannot publish it at this stage for legal reasons.
Since the incident, 28-year-old Josh Hoy, of Wood Street, has been arrested and charged with grievous bodily harm and drug offences.
Mr Uthayarajan said: "It was all so crazy. We had no idea what was happening at first. Everything seemed to start out of nowhere."
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And just a week later, Mr Uthayaranjan's CCTV cameras caught another man flashing what appears to be a gun outside the store at 4am which he then conceals inside his coat.
Mr Uthayarajan said it is the first time he'd ever seen anything like that in Norwich.
"Whether it was real or not, it was shocking to see that happening outside our front door," he said.
And he claims violence has spiked during the summer. Mr Uthayaranjan witnessed a group of men with machetes running across the petrol forecourt at 2.30pm in the afternoon.
Police confirmed investigations were ongoing in the cases of the machete-wielding and the gun-flashing.
The Sri Lankan-born owner, who's run Jet for nearly 21 years, said it might come as a surprise to people that recent abuse he'd faced when limiting fuel refills in the last week was actually just the tip of the iceberg.
Even without a HGV driver shortage, his staff are subject to constant thefts, racial insults, aggressive customers demanding alcohol at 4am and even the occasional shop smash-up.
He explained: "It's been getting worse over the years. We've had people threatening to kill my staff and harassing them.
"I train my staff on racism because we all get it. This is the toughest place in Norfolk to run a petrol station.
"I love working here, but it's a deprived area, and then you've got the night-time and clubland district just around the corner.
"Most of my customers are good, but you're going to get bad ones wherever you are.
"Being a 24-hour alcohol retailer is like walking on a knife edge.
"The police are here most weeks because someone is kicking off."
Police incident maps show that reported crimes in Norwich East have increased in the last three years, up from 704 offences in August 2020 to 809 in August 2021.
But ward councillor Ben Price maintained Norwich was an "exceptionally safe" place to live.
He said: "Criminal activity always gets more concentrated in the city centre but Norwich, on the whole, remains one of the safest cities to live in.
"In any city centre you're going to get trouble.
"When the garage manager asked for a 24-hour alcohol licence a few years ago I objected on this basis.
"People going around with knives and guns is not rational behaviour. And we know many people at the moment are in financial difficulty and mental anguish. We have no idea what's going through their minds.
"Nevertheless, no business should have to face such shocking abuse and feel unsafe at work."
Norwich superintendent Terry Lordan said the force takes a "zero-tolerance approach to knife crime" and will prosecute anyone caught carrying a knife.
But he added: "Our focus is on preventing knife crime happening in the first place, and this can't be done by policing alone.
"We all have a role to play, and I would urge any who suspects or has information someone is carrying a knife to let us know, so we can take appropriate action."