See pictures after sledgehammer raiders steal jewellery from Clare antiques for THIRD time in months
PUBLISHED: 07:48 17 May 2017 | UPDATED: 07:53 17 May 2017
The fuming owner of Clare Antiques is set to close up shop for good after it was trashed by sledgehammer-wielding thieves in the early hours this morning.
Police were called to initial reports of a road accident in Maltings Lane, Clare, at around 4.50am today (May 16).
On arrival officers discovered that a vehicle had been used to force entry to the Clare Antiques and Interiors Centre through a side door.
The incident is the third raid on the same shop in 18 months and is being linked with a failed burglary at another shop at 4.25am yesterday (May 15), where a 4x4 vehicle was driven at a store in Hunts Hill, Glemsford.
For Chris Marchant, owner of the shop, this latest smash and grab has proven the final straw.
“I am thoroughly hacked off,” he said. “This has cost me £15,000 so far minimum, as the insurance does not pay for all of it, and this latest one will cost me £5,000 at the least.
“They knew what they were doing, they came very prepared and they have taken a sledgehammer to four cabinets which are all reinforced glass.
“They went straight to the jewellery and silver and ignored all of the expensive furniture that we have.”
The Antiques Shop is popular with tourists, with 100,000 people a year said to visit the town thanks to the store.
“They have clearly been here and checked the place out, but we get so many people it is impossible to guess who it could have been,” added Mr Marchant.
After the second raid Mr Marchant planned to convert the warehouse and shop premises into flats, but the response from customers convinced him to stick with it. The warehouse has traded antiques for at least 30 years.
“I had no idea how many people valued the shop so we were looking at ways of keeping it open,” he said. “But we have tried everything, they [the burglars] always get round it. We have alarms where you so much as rattle the door and they go off.
“We have reinforced the door, put in shutters and secure deadlocks, but it still happens. If we close up the shop and turn it into residential units, the town will be safer.
“I will talk to my son Robert, but from my point of view, I have had enough. I have had enough of being called up 4am in the morning and having to come down to the shop and find it trashed by these people.”
Witnesses reported a black “Jeep-type” vehicle with a large radiator panel and a bull bar on the front, which is thought to have been used to force the reinforced door.
Specialist tools and sledgehammers were then used to force secure deadlocks. It appears they may also have tried crowbars on the front shutters before realising they would not shift.
“Two men were seen entering the premises and a couple of display cabinets been smashed and jewellery taken,” a police spokesman said.
The vehicle was seen leaving in the direction of Stoke-by-Clare.
• Witnesses or anyone with information are asked to call police on 101, quoting crime reference 37/353/21/17.