BUSINESSES in Comber have been warned to be vigilant after two serious burglaries and a robbery earlier this week.
Substantial damage was caused to the Sugarcane restaurant and Comber Tandoori when thieves smashed their way into the properties and stole money from the tills on Sunday night, and within hours another business was robbed by a man armed with a crowbar.
And on Monday evening staff were still in a retail shop at the Square when a man smashed his way through the front door with a crowbar and although uninjured, the staff are reported to have been shaken by the incident.
The owner of the Sugarcane has urged local businesses to be vigilant in the run up to Christmas, saying it was a bad blow at a time when the hospitality sector is struggling.
Police investigating the attacks have made two arrests – a 33 year-old man on suspicion of robbery, burglary and possession of drugs, and a 40 year-old woman on suspicion of burglary.
The burglaries at the Sugarcane and Comber Tandoori occurred sometime on Sunday night and on both occasions the same entry method was used – thieves broke a window in the front door and stole money from the till.
Then on Monday evening, at around 9pm, a man entered retail premises in The Square armed with a crowbar. He made off on foot with two till drawers and the money they contained.
The PSNI initially appealed for information on the incidents at the Sugarcane and Comber Tandoori, particularly about a man and woman who were in the area from 2am-2.30am on Monday morning.
Peter McCleary, the owner of Sugarcane, said ‘it’s hard enough at the moment in catering’ and this has set them back further.
“We’re normally very, very busy on a Monday and we’ve lost a whole day’s takings here,” he said.
“Some staff have lost hours and other ones on contracted hours we’ve to pay them for not being at work. It’s just been one drama to another with catering recently, with the cost of living and now before Christmas this has really hit us quite hard.
“We’re just appealing for anyone with information to come forward and to warn other traders to be careful on the run up to Christmas.
“We’d be very appreciative of any support that can come our way over the next few days to get over the loss from Monday.”
Gilu Miah, owner of the Comber Tandoori, explained that the damage caused by the burglary is costing more than the thieves got.
“I had some change in the till, around £150,” said Gilu.
“But the damage that they’ve done, they’ve broken my till even though it was open and the fixing of the door. The glass isn’t easy to get. It’s so much hassle, the aftermath is really bad, this mess they’ve created.”
Gill said businesses have to be more resilient.
“We all just have to be more resilient and not leave any change or money in the till at the moment,” he said.
Sergeant Bell has encouraged anyone who may be able to assist with their investigation to contact police on 101, quoting reference 1944 of 13/11/23.
Alternatively, canpeople submit a report online using the non-emergency reporting form via http://www.psni.police.uk/makeareport/.
They can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at http://crimestoppers-uk.org.