“This is not quite the smashing Christmas we had in mind!” Chris Bryant, co-owner of Cats Whiskers in Bishop Cleeve told PG Buzz, after the lovely card and gift shop he owns with his wife Tracey had its frontage destroyed in a reckless ram-raid.
Chris and Tracey, who also own two other stores (Expressions in Swindon and Polkadot in Keynsham), had a rude awakening in the middle of the night yesterday (19 December) with the police informing them that two criminals had driven through the front of the shop and had made off with the safe.
The police were quick on the scene and were able to track the getaway car (which had been stolen) and catch the criminals. Two men have been arrested in connection with the incident.
“It was a redundant safe and was empty so all that damage was in vain,” said Chris who together with Tracey was at the shop in the early hours to help clear up the mess and get up and trading by early afternoon. “We were very much functioning on adrenaline, but our feeling was we couldn’t let those scum bags win.”
While the front of the shop will have to remain boarded up until after Christmas when reparations can begin, customers have been able to use the rear door of the shop.
Chris is full of praise for their fellow retailers as well as the support they have received from customers.
“The local coffee shop has been bringing us in coffees and cake and customers have come to check we are OK and some even have given us flowers. There are a lot of good people in the world,” he said.
The damage to the front door caused by the ram raiders will cost nearly £10,000 to repair, let alone the lost sales.
“I am starting to feel we have a bit of a problem where windows are concerned,” admitted Chris referring to an incident four years ago when a lady drove her Mini right through the Expressions shopfront in Swindon by accident when she mistook the accelerator for the brakes.