Thursday 19 July 2018

'Young thugs aren’t going to stop us' - owner of designer handbag store on attempted robbery

An image from the CCTV recorded during the attempted burglary
An image from the CCTV recorded during the attempted burglary
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

The owner of a designer handbag store in Dublin city centre was hit with a bike chain after bravely standing up to a raider during an attempted robbery.

CCTV footage captured the moment a man dressed in black entered the Designer Exchange on Exchequer Street last Saturday at around 6.30pm.

Paddy Coughlan (38), founder of the popular luxury handbag and accessories store, told Independent.ie how the incident unfolded.

“We were literally ten minutes from closing. People were out and about after the rugby, which makes it all the more shocking that a guy would have the audacity to come in and do that with so many people around,” he said.

“He was kind of calm as he came in but then he quickly approached the counter and shouted at me to open the till. It was at that moment he reached across the counter. I just grabbed both of his hands and pushed him away… there was a glass vase by us and it smashed to smithereens.

“It happened in about 30 seconds and then I hit the panic alarm, when he turned around and swung the bicycle chain at me.”

The retailer suffered heavy bruising to his elbow but said he is thankful the man wasn’t armed with a knife or gun.

The raider left empty handed and Mr Coughlan emphasised how his business is “essentially cashless” as the majority of customers pay by card.

“There is no cash on the premises, but these people are still plaguing independent retailers who are trying to make a decent living for ourselves.

“People say because it’s retail you should expect things like this, but that shouldn’t be the case.”

Gardaí arrived at the scene within minutes and are currently investigating the incident.

No arrests have yet been made.

“The gardai have been fantastic and are keeping me updated on the investigation,” Mr Coughlan said.

The Designer Exchange on Exchequer Street has only been open for a little over two weeks.

DE on Dawson Street celebrated its fifth anniversary last November and Mr Coughlan decided it was time for an expansion in 2018.

However, he said incidents like Saturday do not make it easy for business people in the city centre.

“I’ve been working in retail for 22 years and been manager of different stores throughout my career, where I’ve been faced with many incidents like this.

“Each scenario doesn’t toughen you up more. We have these opportunists who don’t seem to care and I think it’s because there is no deterrence and they know nothing will be done to them.

“I am glad it was me that got hurt, and not a customer or a member of staff.” 

In December 2016, a man shattered the front window of the Dawson Street store and carried out a robbery.

“We have safety procedures in place and young thugs aren’t going to stop us running our business successfully,” Mr Coughlan said.

“We will continue to go from strength to strength.”

Gardaí have confirmed they are carrying out an investigation into the incident.

"On February 10th, at approximately 18.40, a male armed with a bike chain entered a shop on Exchequer St and threatened a staff member, demanding the contents of the till.

"The suspect then struck the staff member across the arm with the bike chain before fleeing the shop empty handed. The staff member received bruising to his arm, but did not require medical treatment.

"The suspect is described as approx 6ft tall, medium build, wearing a black hooded top with white stripes along the side. He was also wearing dark Nike tracksuit bottoms and black runners.

"No arrests have been made and investigations are continuing."

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