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(Updated 7/9/01)

Exhibitor's concern over show security

AN EXHIBITOR has slammed the apparent lack of security at Birmingham Championship Show last weekend after her daughter's car was broken into.

Jayne Alpe of Pipruda Border Terriers was horrified to discover that her daughter Gemma's car had been broken into whilst it was parked in the exhibitors' car park. The side window had been smashed and the thieves had attempted to remove the CD player, causing 500 worth of damage in the process.

Mrs Alpe discovered the break in when she and her daughter returned to the car at 3.30 pm. After complaining to the show office and to security personnel, they were still at the showground at 7pm, with a journey to Norfolk ahead of them.

"Security were worse than useless," said Mrs Alpe. "They suggested I drove the car to the local police station to report it and attempted to removed all the glass from inside the car with a yard broom. I complained to the secretary's office to be told, it could have happened if you had parked the car anywhere, but as I explained, I didn't park the car anywhere, but paid 40 plus in entry fees to park it in what I thought was a secure Championship Show Car Park.

"So my daughter is now 150 out of pocket (excess) and severely distressed as someone has damaged her car. It's her first car and is her pride and joy."

Mrs Alpe continues; "I do feel that this issue is very important, we nearly all use cars to get to shows, and it is about time that security is improved enough to allow us to leave them in the belief that when we arrive back to them they will still be as we left them.

"I have also heard from another exhibitor that on Utility day two children were found clambering under the security fencing. This is very reminiscent of two years ago when a bitch that I bred was stolen from the show. It was children who took her and pushed her under the fencing to get her away.

"I for one wouldn't mind the increase in entry fees quite so much if I knew that my possessions were being made secure, but it appears to be that the money is being spent well in other ways instead (i.e. judges expenses, flashy marquees flowers, etc. etc.) I know that all these things help to make a show. But without us exhibitors, there wouldn't be a show.

"As we live in the back of beyond in Norfolk, maybe Gemma is a little innocent about the criminal element, but what a way for her to learn about the real world out there, at a dog show, where security guards could be seen in evidence in uniforms (lulling you into a false sense of security). Where we pay exorbitant entry fees and seem to get nothing back for our money."

OUR DOGS contacted Birmingham Secretary Keith Young about the matter. Whilst expressing concern and sympathy for Mrs Alpe's predicament, Mr Young pointed out that the whole matter needed to be placed in context.

"We did have an exhibitor who was extremely irate about her car being broken into, but she just kept shouting and telling us she was never showing at this show again," he said. "She didn't give us her name, so we were unable to help her, despite our wanting to.

"Obviously, damage to property and theft of property is a matter of serious concern to any dog show society and we take security very seriously at Birmingham. However, we only had four reported complaints about the security, and this was over a three-day show with close on 12,000 dogs entered.

"The main point is, security is there to protect the dogs first and foremost, and the theft of dogs two years ago was a very serious matter. As regards the safety of cars at the show, it is a large car park surrounded by security barriers. But with any show of this size, held in a public park such as Perry Park, you are going to get hooligans and people intent on causing trouble, however good your own intentions. This year we received complaints about a gang of youths infiltrating the show tents. We informed security, they caught them and ejected them from the show."

Mr Young added that a disabled exhibitor had complained to the show management about rudeness form a security guard in the car parking area. "The lady was unhappy at where the guard had directed her to park. When she remonstrated with him, he swore at her. This was totally unacceptable to us and to his employers, who sacked him on the spot. I gather the man was hired locally for the duration of the show. The security firm Oakstead Security do their very best and the show committee are happy with their efforts."

Mr Young added that there were certain items of lost property which had been handed into the show office and which could be redeemed of the owners contacted him direct. However, any items found after the close of the show would be held by the City of Birmingham Leisure Services division.

"I gather that a car radio was found and I assume that the Council have taken charge of this," he said. "Unfortunately, as I say, we do not have a name and address for the lady who reported the theft from her daughter's car, so we can only advise her to contact the council direct to see if this item belongs to her daughter."