Bedford town centre is suffering an “endemic” of break-ins, according to business bosses.
Stores including Beales, Poundworld, Superdrug, Papa John’s, The Works, Argos, and Close Encounters have all said to have been targeted in recent months.
And bosses are blaming slow response times from police which are emboldening criminals.
Tony Brown, chief executive of Beales, said: “It’s endemic in the town centre, and the police response isn’t good enough.
“We’ve even had people try to break in via the roof when staff were still in the store.
“And unfortunately my staff aren’t getting the engagement from the police that they should do.”
Beales has been one of the worst-affected stores, being targeted on November 18, 23, and 25, and December 2 and 3.
Although Beales has increased its security measures, Mr Brown appreciates that this may only move the problem on to other businesses.
He said: “I’ve had businesses in all parts of the UK, but I’ve never known break-ins to happen in this quantity, at this many shops, in such a short space of time.
“Police response times aren’t good enough – they turn up 20 minutes after the alarms go off.
“I think there’s probably a link between this crime wave and the closure of Greyfriars Police Station.”
Bub Chahal, who owns Close Encounters comic store in Allhallows, agreed.
He said: “There seems to be a consistent pattern of behaviour. Fortunately when they broke in here they didn’t seem to find anything that they wanted, but not everybody has been so lucky.
“Since Greyfriars closed, and there’s no longer a police station in the town centre, we’ve really noticed the difference.”
Bedfordshire Police were unavailable for comment.