Ram-raid victim to be 'back in business'

STEPHEN PULLINGER Residents in a quiet area of Bradwell, near Yarmouth, yesterday gazed in amazement at the gaping hole in the front of their Londis corner shop. The stolen Jeep Cherokee used by a ram-raid gang to plough through a giant glass window and wooden door the night before was still left abandoned on grass outside.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

Residents in a quiet area of Bradwell, near Yarmouth, yesterday gazed in amazement at the gaping hole in the front of their Londis corner shop.

The stolen Jeep Cherokee used by a ram-raid gang to plough through a giant glass window and wooden door the night before was still left abandoned on grass outside.

Father-of-two Paresh Patel, who has run the Church Lane store with his wife Anita for 14 years, was waiting for scenes-of-crime officers to finish their forensic work so he could survey the extensive damage inside.

He said: "A neighbour of the shop rang my home in nearby Fritton at about 11.30pm last night (Wednesday) and I came down straightaway. Police were already here and there were a number of local residents outside."

Mr Patel said one local woman had heard four bangs, which she presumed was the noise of the Jeep being rammed into the shop, and came out screaming to be confronted by about five gang members, whose faces were concealed with masks.

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He said: "They brought another vehicle with them, a BMW, and she saw them drive away in that."

Mr Patel said the shop was a valuable part of the community and he had never had any trouble before.

Surveying the tangled mess of broken shelves containing confectionery and cakes, he said: "The damage has been made worse by the fact they drove the Jeep right inside.

"Damage must run to thousands of pounds but as soon as the forensic people have finished their work I will get it boarded up and plan to be back in business supplying papers as normal tomorrow morning."

He still had to check to see if anything had been taken, including the small amount of cash left overnight in two tills.

Appealing for witnesses, Det Sgt Mark Scott, leading the inquiry, said: "It appears they were after the ATM cash machine and tried to tie a rope around it. However, the bar broke off the front of the vehicle and it looks like they left empty-handed."

He said they would be checking the possibility of any connection with other ram-raids, but there had not been any in the area for a couple of years.

The black Jeep is believed to have been stolen some time on August 7 from Yarmouth's Harfrey's industrial estate.

Det Sgt Scott said: "Apart from any witnesses to the actual raid, we are keen to speak to anyone who may have seen the Jeep being driven around the area yesterday."

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