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‘You can’t measure what we’ve lost’ – Cafe owner’s anger as popular venue targeted

PUBLISHED: 18:38 28 February 2020 | UPDATED: 18:38 28 February 2020

Judith and Steve Weale, owners of Willy's and Milly's in Northgate Street, Ipswich. Picture: HOLLY HUME

Judith and Steve Weale, owners of Willy's and Milly's in Northgate Street, Ipswich. Picture: HOLLY HUME

Archant

A man has been arrested on suspicion of burglary after an alleged ‘smash and grab’ theft at Willy’s and Milly’s cafe in Northgate Street, Ipswich this week.

Willy's and Milly's cafe was broken into in the early hours of Wednesday February 26. Picture: HOLLY HUMEWilly's and Milly's cafe was broken into in the early hours of Wednesday February 26. Picture: HOLLY HUME

Police were alerted to the incident when officers on patrol heard the alarm sounding at around 3am on Wednesday.

MORE: Door smashed and cash stolen in Ipswich cafe break in

Owner Steve Weale arrived at the cafe at 6.45am to find the front door smashed in and a note from police informing him of what had happened.

"We were sweeping up glass and trying to count up everything that had been taken, the whole till and the cash float in it are gone," recalled Mr Weale, who took over the cafe with wife Judith in 2011.

Willy's and Milly's cafe has been boarded up following the break in but is still open for business Picture: HOLLY HUMEWilly's and Milly's cafe has been boarded up following the break in but is still open for business Picture: HOLLY HUME

He added: "Whoever did this had to crawl in through a door of broken glass so whoever they are they must have been desperate."

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As the clean up began, the couple realised the true cost of the break-in would mount up.

"The keys to our storage shed were inside the till so we couldn't get to the hoover to clear up until our handyman arrived to let us in, our whole day was disrupted," said Mr Weale.

Willy's and Milly's cafe was broken into in the early hours of Wednesday February 26. Picture: HOLLY HUMEWilly's and Milly's cafe was broken into in the early hours of Wednesday February 26. Picture: HOLLY HUME

He continued: "There are so many costs that we now have to foot the bill for, our insurance has a £250 excess to start with.

"Then there's the impact of lost customers who might have walked by, seen the door and decided they didn't want to come in or that we might not be open - you can't ever measure what we've lost."

The cafe owners have also had to pay out for replacing the locks on the door, and have now installed CCTV at their own expense.

He added: "We will get some of it back but not all, there are losses that we won't ever be able to cover."

Whilst nothing like this has ever happened to the cafe before, Mr Weale has admitted he fears a repeat attack in the future.

The community has rallied around the popular cafe, which has been a feature of the street for more than a century. Many people have offered their support and Mr Weale admits it has been lovely to hear that they are valued.


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