Criminals target city restaurants as police step up enquiries

There have been a series of break-ins across Norwich including at The Ber Street Kitchen 

There have been a series of break-ins across Norwich including at The Ber Street Kitchen - Credit: Archant/David Cross

Hard-hit hospitality businesses have been further battered by a spate of break-ins since Christmas with police investigating the new trend.

At least eight venues have been burgled in Norwich in recent weeks which has set the businesses back thousands of pounds in stolen goods and installing security measures. 

The Red Lion pub in Bishopgate, The Bengal Spice Indian restaurant in St Benedicts Street, as well as Figbar and Salt were all targeted by thugs over the Christmas period. 

Jamie Barbutt outside Salt on Saint John Maddermarket

Jamie Garbutt of Figbar and Salt - Credit: Archant

And the past couple of weeks has seen Patisserie Valerie, Brick Pizza, Moolah's Convenience Store and The Ber Street Kitchen added to the list of victims.

A spokeswoman for Norfolk Police said: "Police are aware of a number of break-ins in Norwich. Enquiries are ongoing." 

Wayne Chapman, owner of The Ber Street Kitchen, said there were four separate break-ins at the Ber Street premises during January, including the Friday and Sunday just gone.

All of the burglaries took place overnight as those responsible made off with a quantity of cash, speaker and food, as well as dismantling CCTV cameras. 

Wayne Chapman, owner of The Ber Street Kitchen in Norwich 

Wayne Chapman, owner of The Ber Street Kitchen in Norwich - Credit: Ben Hardy

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Mr Chapman said: "You almost feel a depression in humanity when it happens given we are all in a pandemic. 

"It feels like everyone has been in a battle and someone just helps themselves to our hard-earned cash and goods. It just does not sit right that someone would be that low.

"I thought about staying at the café overnight but you just do not know what these people are capable of." 

A window at the back of the business has had to be boarded up since the break-ins with Mr Chapman estimating the total cost of the burglary as £3,000 on top of the thousands spent on deterrents. 

Mr Chapman added: "We had to send people home early to preserve wages after the loss so it has been a real kick in the teeth to be honest.

"We are a family-run business and the staff are really feeling it. They have had to come into work wondering 'have we been burgled today?' or 'has the window been smashed again?'." 

The thugs also attempted to break into the Esquire Hair Studio next door to the café on Friday night but were unsuccessful. 

Elsewhere in the city, Brick Pizza co-owner Sean Morrow could be seen being interviewed by police outside his Market Place pizzeria at Tuesday lunchtime following a break-in sometime between 11.30pm on Saturday and 10.30am on Sunday.

Forensic services in Norwich Market Place on Sunday afternoon 

Forensic services in Norwich Market Place on Sunday afternoon - Credit: David Cross

A quantity of cash was stolen from the eatery. 

Mr Morrow said he was aware there had been a series of break-ins across Norwich and was fully cooperating with police but added he had no further comments to make on the incident.

Forensic services could be seen outside Brick Pizza on Sunday, not long after they had been spotted outside Patisserie Valerie in Davey Place on Thursday, January 20.

Police forensic services outside the Patisserie Valerie in Norwich city centre 

Police forensic services outside the Patisserie Valerie in Norwich city centre - Credit: Ben Hardy

Yobs had forced entry into the cake shop through a back door before attempting to steal money. 

Kitchen manager, Jack Wilks, said: "It has become a regular occurrence. It is not the first time and it probably won't be the last."

And Moolah's Convenience Store in White Lion Street was also targeted by thieves on Monday afternoon.

Moolah's convenience store in White Lion Street 

Moolah's convenience store in White Lion Street - Credit: Ben Hardy

Police were called around 4.40pm and attended shortly afterwards. 

Owner Charmaine Cawdron said: "It's really worrying. Police asked us to send them over the CCTV footage and if anyone came in, we were told not to chase after them or anything.

"People are going around and it is so dangerous at the moment. 

"We've had it before where we refuse to sell people something. Then they come back 20 minutes later pretending to buy a bottle of Fanta before they suddenly run off with the vapes."

Miss Cawdron's fiancée runs the Field's News store in London Street which was broken into with an axe in November.

The XO Kitchen in St Georges Street was also burgled that month.