Burglars strike eight times in one night


- Credit: Archant

Business owners were left feeling ‘violated and saddened’ at a spate of burglaries that stung Sidmouth and Salcombe Regis on Monday night (August 17).

Eight properties were entered an attempt was made on two others, beginning at just after 10pm in the town centre.

In most cases only a small amount of money, if anything, was taken, but the bill to repair the damage totals thousands of pounds.

Residents living above The Chattery heard banging at 10.15pm and contacted the landlord. He arrived to find the High Street café’s back door and the door to the store room had been broken.

The thieves made off with the money from the till and some petty cash, totalling a ‘couple of hundred pounds’.

Manager Gail Smee said: “When I heard there had been a break in I thought they had completely turned the place over, but they saw what they needed, took it and went. You just feel violated when you work hard for something.

“They did a clean sweep of Sidmouth then ran off somewhere.”

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The Loft was broken into at 10.30pm, where owner Katrina Lort said: “They’ve not taken anything but money. It’s really upsetting to think someone’s done this for so little. It could have been a lot worse.

“We’ve never had anything like this before. We’ve always felt so safe. You just don’t expect it in Sidmouth.”

The burglars scaled the wrought iron fence at the back of the Old Fore Street restaurant and forced their way in. They caused around £1,500 of damage to the till, four doors and two windows.

While in the courtyard, the burglars also attempted to break into Devon Embroidery, where Mel Flynn said the door handle was bent and ‘they trashed the place’, seemingly with a crow bar.

At the back of newsagents Martin McColls, the burglars had a choice of one of two doors – one leading to the stock room, the other to a collection point for the day’s newspapers. Supervisor Jack Bright said: “They went in the newspaper door. It was completely ripped open. They picked the wrong door and went away. I don’t know why they targeted us.”

The incident happened between the hours of 9pm and 5am.

Two people were seen running from Donkey Sanctuary’s Hayloft Restaurant, where it looks like the thieves attempted to make off with the safe.

They broke the front wooden doors and forced the till, taking an unknown amount of cash at around 1am.

PR manager Suzi Cretney said: “We are leaving it in the capable hands of the police.

“Thank goodness our security guard was here and is safe. It is a very busy period for us and staff rallied around brilliantly and kept serving coffees and ice creams while officers were at the scene.

“They worked their socks off to get the restaurant open by lunch – it was all hands on deck and a real team effort.”

The reception of the Thorn Golf Centre, in Salcombe Regis, was broken into but the owner, who asked not to be named, said nothing was taken.

“They’re obviously very professional,” he said. “They forced the front door and didn’t cause any other damage. It’s quite shocking.

“They certainly weren’t very successful here.”

Four premises were targeted in the Thorn Business Park.

Thorn Coachworks co-owner David Bartholomew said apart from a ‘rather knackered’ door, which was levered open, his business got off relatively lightly.

The criminals gained access to South West Signs but left without taking anything.

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said Sid Valley Garage also had a break-in, and there was an attempt on the nearby Lyme Bay Cabins.

PC Steve Lee , Sidmouth’s neighbourhood beat manager, sought to reassure residents and business owners that the offences are being investigated, and police have stepped up their patrols.

Anyone with information is asked to contact him at stephen.lee@devonandcornwall.pnn.police.uk or on 101, quoting crime reference CR/057701/15.

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