Published: 09:32, 06 September 2019
| Updated: 09:55, 06 September 2019
The devastated owners of a cafe which suffered £1,000 of damage during a break-in are leading calls for more to be done to protect small businesses.
Toast in Beach Street, Herne Bay, was targeted by raiders sometime between 10.30pm on Saturday and early on Sunday morning.
The thieves left the building with a small quantity of cash having ransacked the eatery.
Art gallery Beach Creative, which shares the building with Toast, was also broken into during the late-night raid.
This is the second break-in at a town centre premises in recent weeks, after more than £300 was stolen from A Bundle of Books in Bank Street last month.
Sherry Newton, who runs the cafe with business partner Alison Clarke, is hoping to launch a neighbourhood watch-style group for business owners across Herne Bay and Whitstable to help crack down on the number of raids in the area.
“I know there have been a lot of incidents in this area recently and a lot of small businesses are feeling really vulnerable and unprotected,” she explained.
'A lot of small businesses are feeling really vulnerable and unprotected' - Sherry Newton from Toast
“There doesn’t seem to be much help being offered to protect us. When these things happen, no-one comes to help, there’s no action afterwards.”
Ms Newton was the first to arrive at the premises on Sunday.
“It was an absolute nightmare coming into this,” she said.
“We both feel incredibly sad and exhausted by the whole thing because we’ve worked really hard to create something nice for people.”
A police spokesman confirmed officers are investigating the burglaries in Beach Street.
They received a report on Sunday morning that quantities of cash and other items, including coffee, had been stolen.
Ms Newton found the contents of the cafe’s drawers and cupboards emptied onto the floor and cleaning fluids poured over work surfaces and equipment.
As a result, she expects Toast to be left with a hefty repair bill.
“We’re looking at about £1,000 of damage,” she continued.
“From how it looks, they spent quite a bit of time here – and they went undetected. They went to quite a bit of work trying to enter the building.
“Cash was stolen, but it wasn’t a huge amount because we don’t have a lot on the premises. We’ve lost equipment and we’ve had to throw away almost all of our stock.”
Toast was closed for the following two days before reopening on Tuesday.
Beach Creative director Mandy Troughton says the raiders made their way into its offices and kitchens, but only stole a small amount of cash.
“It wasn’t too much of a mess, thank God,” she said. “It’s really frustrating.
“They took a bit of money, but that’s basically it. The artwork was all secure and untouched, which is a bit of a blessing.”
Insp Kevin Stephens says dedicated teams of officers covering the coastal towns have benefited from increased recruitment over the last two years, adding: “Whether it is your home or your business targeted, we understand how worrying it can be when you become a victim of burglary.
'From how it looks, they spent quite a bit of time here – and they went undetected' - Sherry Newton
“It is important to us that we do all we can to make victims feel safe.
“We have dedicated teams covering the coastal towns and in the last two financial years our frontline policing has been boosted by the ongoing recruitment of 380 extra officers.
"Any business owners who have concerns about their security can contact our community safety unit for advice on staying safe.”
Police are urging anyone with information regarding either burglary to call them on 01843 222289, quoting the reference number 46/169018/19.