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Staff fuming after smokehouse raid

PUBLISHED: 05:30 31 January 2003 | UPDATED: 16:13 24 February 2010

STAFF at a specialist smokehouse in a Suffolk village said all their hard work at Christmas had been ruined after thieves plundered their safe.

A substantial sum of money was stolen when burglars raided Richardson's Smokehouse, Orford, near Woodbridge, in the middle of the night and cut open the safe.

STAFF at a specialist smokehouse in a Suffolk village said all their hard work at Christmas had been ruined after thieves plundered their safe.

A substantial sum of money was stolen when burglars raided Richardson's Smokehouse, Orford, near Woodbridge, in the middle of the night and cut open the safe.

They stole the cash box and then entered the cold store, took a pair of kippers and left them in the safe. This was the third burglary in three years – and owners Steve Richardson and Veronica Buckley are still paying off the bank loan to cover the losses from the first theft.

At Christmas the owners and their long-serving assistant Kelly Gallant worked all hours to fulfill orders and sell a variety of smoked fish, cheeses and ham to customers all over the country.

In common with many small businesses their takings help to compensate for the quieter months of January and February. But the losses incurred in Tuesday night's burglary can not all be covered by insurance and the smokehouse is back to "square one."

In July 2000 a substantial sum was stolen when thieves took away the safe. The smokehouse was left with a few hundred pounds in the bank and had to take out a £3,000 bank loan. In September 2001 nothing was stolen during a burglary.

The latest incident occurred between midnight on January 28, when Mr Richardson had chopped wood for the fire and started smoking salmon, and 9.45am the next morning when Ms Gallant opened the shop. Neighbours heard noises at about 2.30am.

Ms Buckley said: "You do get shaken up by this sort of thing. We have a good little business but it only supports three or four of us. We do not have thousands of pounds in the bank, we do not have a flash lifestyle or anything like that. At this time of year the money we make at the weekend is just enough to cover the wages in the week."

The shopping list following the burglary includes a new safe, cash box, door locks and even a chuck key for a drill. The smokehouse has a special attachment for a drill to make fish cakes.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk Police said security measures had been tightened at the smokehouse and officers were investigating the burglary. Anyone with information should call 01473 613500.

The smokehouse is a member of the specialist food group Tastes of Anglia and has been operating from Orford for more than 15 years.

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