Published: 14:37, 04 December 2020
| Updated: 15:18, 04 December 2020
Raiders stole £5,000 of construction equipment just days after work started to transform a derelict pub into flats.
Bemused builders returned to the former Plough Inn in Margate Road, Herne Bay, to find their gear had been taken, along with items of clothing and food, overnight.
They had moved onto the site to convert the former tavern into a four-bedroom - seven months after the scheme was given the green light.
But owner Colin Deehan, who is working on the seven-figure project alongside father-and-son developers Ralph and Alistair Noel, says the workers were left demoralised by the incident.
“They took about £5,000 worth of tools, food out of the fridge and clothes from the backs of the chairs,” he said.
“We don’t have CCTV, but we’ve screwed panels to the walls to try to stop people getting in.
"It’s demoralising for the guys to have this happen in the first week of the job.”
Police were contacted about the theft at about 8am on Saturday, November 21.
They believe the incident took place between 6pm on the Friday and 7am the following day.
The dilapidated pub has been targeted several times before.
It was gutted by a fire following a suspected arson attack in August 2018 and, according to Mr Deehan, vandals have previously torn tiles from its roof.
“The pub really should have been knocked down, to be honest,” Mr Deehan continued.
“There was the fire in there and the roof was half gone, so there’s water damage on all the timbers.
“All of this is probably going to cost us another £60,000.”
The developers launched two bids to demolish the rundown watering hole and replace it with a convenience store and flats in 2018.
But after Canterbury City Council rejected both applications they decided to revise their plans.
In their latest proposals, which were given the go-ahead in March, they opted to keep the shell of the pub, convert it into a four-bedroom house, while also erecting a bungalow and a block of four flats on the plot.
Despite encountering several delays due to the coronavirus outbreak, Mr Deehan believes the scheme could be completed next summer.
Police are urging anyone with information about the theft to call them on 01843 222289, quoting the reference number 46/207807/20.