Three raids in six months

CHAMPAGNE was stashed into burglars' swag bags when they broke into an Indian restaurant.It was the third time in six months the year-old Raj Palace in Crown Street, Ipswich has been hit by crime, plus a neighbouring ballet school has been broken into, and a nearby office plundered of computers.

CHAMPAGNE was stashed into burglars' swag bags when they broke into an Indian restaurant.

It was the third time in six months the year-old Raj Palace in Crown Street, Ipswich has been hit by crime, plus a neighbouring ballet school has been broken into, and a nearby office plundered of computers.

Today owner Faruk Ullah slammed the penalties given burglars, and told of his intention to warn the rest of the Asian community of the rising tide in restaurant break-ins he has experienced.

Mr Ullah said in the latest break-in, the culprits prised open a tiny window covered by a wire mesh, and took cash from the till, plus three bottles - of Champagne, wine and Asti.


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"They must have been skinny to get through the window," said Mr Ullah.

"At least they didn't trash the place – not six months ago burglars ripped out the till and took the whole thing with them. A colleague's rally car was also vandalised – all the trim ripped off, a month ago."

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He said the latest burglary was discovered by a friend living above the restaurant, who ventured down to wash up his plate and was surprised to find doors left open, then saw the till had been forced.

"We are usually so careful to keep the doors shut, locked, and everything secure. The kitchen knifes were scattered over the floor, and forensics officers have been looking for fingerprints," said Mr Ullah.

A police spokeswoman said the burglary happened between 11.30pm Wednesday and 8am yesterday .

Mr Ullah pledged to upgrade the burglar alarm and fight for cameras to be installed in the busy street.

He runs another restaurant in West Mersea, Essex without incident, and said he had been surprised to experience such a level of crime in Ipswich.

He said: "I was born here in Ipswich and it never used to be this bad. Now there are so many attractions in the town centre and at Cardinal Park, that it is a very different place. Alcohol is freely available and there is a big club culture in the town. There was a fight outside the restaurant only last week.

"I don't think the penalties for burglars are strong enough. When the car was vandalised here, the offender was 13 years old so nothing was done. The penalties for juveniles should be stronger. Lord Woolf was saying burglars should be let out into the community but that's not safe. Burglary is still a serious crime, not as serious as rape but even rapists get out after three or four years. We also hear about elderly people getting mugged. There should be tougher penalties to stop this sort of thing happening, and stop persistent offenders.

"I am going to let leaders in the Asian community know restaurants are being targeted."

Lord Chief Justice Woolf ruled last month that burglars facing 18-month prison sentences or less should be granted community punishments instead.

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Do you think burglars should be given tougher sentences?

Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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