Dawn spree of raids

DESPITE thousands of pounds worth of damage being caused and a haul of goods being stolen, managers say it is business as usual in Cheddar.

DESPITE thousands of pounds worth of damage being caused and a haul of goods being stolen, managers say it is 'business as usual' in Cheddar.

Business owners who became the victims of a spree of attacks in the village say the break-ins have not affected their Christmas spirit.

Tweentown Stores owners Michael and Christine Simpson only took over the shop a few weeks ago but say although their front windows were smashed and tills stolen, has not made them want to leave the usually peaceful village.

Michael, aged 46, said: "We have had to replace all the glass, which is probably going to cost about £2,000 but luckily we are insured.

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"At first we thought it might be personal as we only moved in on November 12 but then we heard other places had been hit as well.

"We have put up a sign saying 'business as usual' to show them it hasn't put us off. People around here have been fantastic and given us lots of support."

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Thieves took a till from the shop but abandoned it further up the road when they realised it was empty. The family, including the four Simpson children, live above the shop and when Christine banged on the window one of the thieves said we've been rumbled, and they got away in a car.

During the spate of attacks in the early hours of Thursday morning, Strawberry Fields Farm Shop near Draycott Memorial Hall, was also hit.

The thieves ripped off the side of the shed and made off with meats, cheeses, a music centre and a cash register.

Manager Cliff Besley, who has only owned the shop a week, said: "The alarm was going off but no-one seemed to take notice.

"They caused about £500 worth of damage and the till was found on Shipham Hill. We have had to buy in all new stock for the Christmas demand."

Cheddar Football Club also played victim to the spate of attacks and more than £3,000 worth of damage was caused to the premises off Church Street.

Club chairman Steve Bayliss said: "Panels had been ripped off the roof and the cellar door and front windows were smashed. They took a cigarette machine, which probably had around £500 worth of stuff in it.

"It could have been a lot worse and luckily they didn't get into the safe or touch the fruit machine or the juke box.

"We are more concerned about the inconvenience than the volume of damage."

The owners of a Congresbury shop were also burgled the same morning.

Helen's Village News in the precinct, Brinsea Road, had its door ripped from its hinges, causing thousands of pound worth of damage. The till was taken with a small amount of cash in it.

Police are now investigating the incidents, which all happened between 4-5am, and are appealing for anyone with information to call 0845 456 7000.

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