Opportunist thieves ransacking cafes to steal charity boxes, petty cash and bacon have swept through Fleetwood – and police today warned other businesses could be at risk.
Yobs are using dark alleyways to go unnoticed before smashing their way in to the properties, often making off with a haul that is worth less than the damaged they caused.
Police are now urging traders to install external lighting, which they say has already helped stop one cafe falling prey to thieves.
In the past week, officers in the port have been called out to four town centre break-ins and one attempted break-in, but say they believe there could be far more that went unreported.
Colin Hind, who runs Capricorn Cafe, on Lord Street, said his business was broken into a couple of months ago.
He said: “They took next to nothing but it’s the damage that’s the most annoying thing. It cost me £400 for a new door.
“It’s so disheartening – it makes you wonder why you bother. I had to replace my stock because they left the freezers open. They could have had all that but all they took was £50 in change and a pack of bacon. What’s the point?”
What’s the point?”
Lia Stefani, whose mum Anna runs the Ferry Cafe, on The Esplanade, said when thieves targeted them three weeks ago they took out a window to get their meagre haul.
“We had two charity boxes near the till,” she added. “They cut through the chain to get them.
“As far as we know that’s all they took. They took the window out so they could get in but they even left that behind.
“It would be nice to see someone get caught for this.”
Police say they are still gathering information and believe the places targeted are all cafes in the town centre – but they fear the thieves may widen their scope.
Now they are warning other businesses to be vigilant and report anything suspicious.
PC Lorna Bolton said: “My concern is they will start targeting other businesses in Fleetwood and it’s not along stretch from there to go after residential properties.
“It’s mostly opportunistic – they are after things like petty cash but it’s the damage cause getting into the premises that is the biggest impact.”
She urged businesses to keep buildings secure and to remove cash and valuables overnight.
Police are working on the assumption the various incidents may be linked but say they have no firm evidence to support the theory yet.
PC Bolton added: “We know of nine or 10 attempted break-ins that were not reported but that is still vital information.
“We have also been conducting CCTV enquiries and going hose to house to gather as much information as we can.”
Anyone with information should call PC Lorna Bolton at Fleetwood police station on 101.