Published: 00:01, 20 January 2019
The defiant owner of a vape shop is “sticking two finger up” to burglars by keeping his shop open after it suffered a break-in.
Sam Arthur, owner of 21st Century Vapes on Mill Hill, Deal, has spoken of his heartbreak over the crime on Monday, January 8.
A nearby resident alerted him to the sound of banging and alarms at about 11pm, prompting him to rush to his family-owned store.
When he arrived, he saw the front door was broken.
Mr Arthur, of St Margaret’s, said: “The door stayed on its hinges because it was locked but they had broken through one of the panels and climbed through.
“They had taken a lot of stock and ransacked our store room and shop.
“Thankfully there wasn’t much in the back room, but it was a complete mess in here.
“What they took was very selective. What they’ve taken makes me believe that they have been in here and befriended us to scout the place out."
Eyewitnesses have given varied reports of the culprits but accounts suggest that a group of four to five men are to blame for the damage and theft, which is expected to cost Mr Arthur about £3,000 in lost retail value.
It is believed the suspects left the scene, heading down Thornbridge Road.
Despite the theft, the shop opened the next day after staff stayed to clear it until 2am on the night of the burglary.
Mr Arthur said: “We wanted to stick two fingers up to the people who did it and stay open. We’re trying to say that you haven’t effected us.
“We’ve had a lot of support and a lot of kind words.
“We have a real community environment here and we try to help the local residents.
Sam Arthur talks about reopening after the break-in at 21st Century Vapes
“We’re still open for business, and we’re overwhelmed by the support from the Deal community.”
In light of the break-in, the family business - which opened in 2017 - is planning to ramp up security.
The police have confirmed they are investigating the incident.
A spokesman said: “Kent Police is investigating a report of a burglary at a shop in Mill Hill, Deal between 11pm and 11.13pm on Tuesday 8 January 2019. Some of the shop’s stock was reported stolen. Officers attended the scene and enquiries are ongoing."
n Anyone with information about the burglary and damage is asked to contact police on 01843 222289, quoting reference number 46/4894/19.