Thieves target Lady Florence floating restaurant and break into charity box

The Lady Florence cruising at Orford

The Lady Florence cruising at Orford - Credit: River Cruise Restaurants

Owners of the Lady Florence river cruise restaurant in Orford have been left "devastated" after it was targeted by burglars - who even broke into a charity box.

Director Craig Ambury said the crime was a real blow after having to shut for most of the past year due to coronavirus, but there had been a heart-warming outpouring of support from the public.

The thieves broke into an RNLI charity box

The thieves broke into an RNLI charity box - Credit: River Cruise Restaurants

He said: "We are struggling as it is, and it is very disappointing to have this happen - as if Covid-19 wasn't a bad enough struggle for our small family business." 

The early-hours crime saw thieves get away with an outboard motor worth £3,500 and other goods worth around £2,000, including wine and spirits, as well as causing damage worth hundreds of pounds. "They even broke into our RNLI charity collection box," Mr Ambury said. 

Mr Ambury said the theft of the outboard motor, which was secured and postcode-marked, had been spotted on CCTV camera.

Some of the damage caused in the break-in to the Lady Florence

Some of the damage caused in the break-in to the Lady Florence - Credit: River Cruise Restaurants

When he went over to check, he found that the thieves had also broken into the boat and stolen items including wine, spirits, a heater and tools.

He said the thieves had used a small "rubber duck" craft to carry out the crime, and would have been weighed down by the motor.

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There has been overwhelming public support since Craig and partner Kris posted about the crime on the Lady Florence's social media feeds. 

"We have had over 10,000 people commenting and sharing the post," Mr Ambury said.

"People suggested we should set up a funding page for contributions, but we decided not to do that, and have just asked people to support us in another way by booking a cruise when we can open up again." 

The Lady Florence and the Allen Gardiner floating restaurant in Ipswich opened briefly for "bubble" cruises with just one household last summer, but had to close again because of lockdown restrictions.

Craig Ambury of the Lady Florence, which has been burgled

Craig Ambury of the Lady Florence, which has been burgled - Credit: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis/Archant

Police are appealing for anyone with information to come forward.

A police spokesman said: "Police had a report of a theft of an outboard motor from Orford Quay during the hours of darkness on January 30. They unbolted a Mariner F15 outboard motor from rear of tender boat and took the motor away.

"Also during the hours of darkness in the same location, a large river cruiser restaurant was broken into with wine, spirit, cash, a diesel heater and charity box taken.

"Anyone with information, who saw or heard anything suspicious  or knows who was responsible should contact police."

If you can help, visit the police website, quoting 37/5066/21 for the motor theft and 37/5070/21 for the break-in. Alternatively, call police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.