Shopkeepers describe moment shop was raided while they slept upstairs

Shop owners Jenny and Peter Lewis came downstairs to find five charity boxes stolen from the till ar

Shop owners Jenny and Peter Lewis came downstairs to find five charity boxes stolen from the till area Picture: JENNY LEWIS - Credit: Archant

The owners of a hardware shop in Essex have described the “frightening” moment they woke to find their store being raided.

Jenny and Peter Lewis were asleep above their shop, Fork Andles in Earls Colne, in the early hours of Thursday morning when they were woken by a loud bang downstairs at around 3am.

Mrs Lewis said: “We sat up in bed and waited for the next noise and then heard this thumping and banging going on downstairs.

“After the first bang, our alarm went off so we knew one of our door sensors has been triggered. “Although the alarm had gone off I phoned the police as well. We just decided to wait it out.

“The police officer on the phone was really good and said officers had been dispatched.

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“The noise had stopped but we didn’t want to run the risk of facing someone downstairs. “Having a post office in your shop, you don’t know what the people who have broken in are thinking. “Because the flat was secure we decided we would hang on.

“We eventually came out and went to the back of the property and discovered they had forced their way in.

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“It was a frightening experience having someone in the shop and not wanting them to find a way to come up to us.”

Mrs Lewis said she believes the only items stolen were five charity boxes which were taken from the counter.

“I think we got away quite lightly,” she said. “There was stuff all over the floor but the damage looks minimal.

“The charity tins were all sealed so I don’t know exactly how much was in them but it could be as much as £150 which was going to charities like the East Anglian Air Ambulance and St Helena Hospice.”

Despite the break-in, Fork Andles was open for business as usual on Thursday morning.

Police are also investigating another burglary which happened a few miles away in Sible Hedingham. Officers were called shortly before 4am on Thursday morning to reports that entry had been forced into the Store on Swan Street and that cigarettes had been stolen.

A 39-year-old man from Haverhill, a 38-year-old man from Sudbury and a 43-year-old man from Haverhill have all been arrested on suspicion of burglary and remain in police custody.

Officers from Essex Police are investigating whether the two incidents are linked.

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