A pub on New Oxford Street, London, has reopened for business today having been burgled several times over the Christmas period.
The Old Crown Public House was broken into twice in the early hours of Christmas morning, and the landlord believes the thieves returned again in the early hours of this (Friday) morning.
Dave Ahern (pictured), chef-proprietor of the Burger Breakout, which operates out of the Old Crown, said that the thieves appeared to have called twice on Christmas morning. "We can see from the CCTV cameras that they kicked in the glass door at about 5am on Christmas morning and took all the Champagne from one of the fridges behind the bar. They then came back a couple of hours later and took every full bottle of spirit, smashed up the till and the area around the till. They also took the PDQ machine."
As the pub was closed on Christmas Day, Ed Salter, the landlord of the Old Crown did not discover the break-in until Boxing Day. However, having restocked for business so that the pub could reopen after the Christmas break, it then suffered another break-in this morning.
"Initially, we thought it was homeless people," explained Ahern, "which would be quite ironic because we do so much to help them, but looking at the footage the thieves definitely aren't homeless. They didn't steal any bottles with broken seals, so we suspect they are selling the alcohol on, plus the fact that they keep coming back would suggest they are supplying someone."
Ahern said that the pub would be using stills from the CCTV footage to try and identify the burglars. The police have also tried to fingerprint the property, although given the high turnover of customers he believes it will not be easy to track down the offenders from fingerprints alone.
The police have agreed to increase its resource around the surrounding neighbourhood as a nearby sandwich bar had also been broken into recently.
Ahern said that while business is normally quite quiet for the pub during this period, the pub had been relatively busy today. "The majority of our trade comes from local offices around here, but we're close to the British Museum so we've been quite busy with tourists, and one or two people who have heard about the break-in have come and had a burger out of solidarity."
Burger Breakout, which launched at the Old Crown Public House in October, uses carefully sourced, high-quality produce for its menu. Ahern said that despite the value of the food products, nothing had been stolen from the kitchen where everything is locked up.
Despite the threat that the burglars could return yet again, Ahern said they were trying to avoid boarding up the glass-fronted building as they did not want to spoil the look and feel of the place. "We don't want people to feel like they are drinking in a bunker. But what we will now have to do is remove the bottles behind the bar every night which is additional work for everyone and put them under lock and key. We have a licence until 3am, so that means that staff won't get to leave here until 4am."
By Amanda Afiya
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