Stab vest seller targets parents after his son is robbed twice at knifepoint in Dagenham
PUBLISHED: 07:56 20 March 2019 | UPDATED: 09:50 20 March 2019
A man who sells survival and slash-proof gear is beginning to market his wares to parents in the current wave of knife crime.
Dean Dawe’s son Darren was robbed twice at knifepoint in Dagenham last year, once on Martins Corner and once on Valence Avenue, where robbers stole his and his friends’ bikes.
Darren, who is 16, now wears the Kevlar-lined clothes when he goes out and about. Dean emphasises that they are slash-proof, not stab-proof.
Kevlar is an extremely strong material used for a variety of applications, though most famously for bullet-proof vests and helmets.
Because of the violence, Dean’s girlfriend, who lives in Dagenham with Darren, has been trying to move the family out of the area.
“It was like: ‘For the time being, what am I going to do to protect him, to keep him safe?’
“And you can’t expect a teenager to stay in all day, every day. It’s never going to happen,” Dean, 36, said.
“I don’t expect him to walk around like a juggernaut with a bullet-proof vest and a helmet on, it’s not practical.”
That’s when he started looking at slash-proof clothes.
“Every time I hear a poor little kid getting his life taken or stabbed or something like that my stomach turns,” Dean said.
“I just think it’s a matter of time.”
But although they offer protection, the clothes aren’t cheap. A t-shirt lined with Kevlar costs almost £69. The most expensive item, a sweater, costs more than £120.
Dean estimates that he’s sold between 50 and 60 garments lined with Kevlar, mostly to adults.
“I only haven’t advertised to children because the items are quite expensive, because Kevlar is quite expensive to produce,” he said.
“But seeing as there’s a knife crime epidemic, it makes sense to try and reach out to people who want to protect their kids.”
In his previous job, Dean designed online marketing for films like the third Mission Impossible and The Nut Cracker.
He wanted to start his own business so he could be closer to his youngest son, who is two.
He now spends most of his time running the shop, Titan Depot, from its base in Woodford Green.
The shop sells survival gear, Kevlar-lined clothes and more traditional stab and bullet-proof vests.