Burglars have ransacked a newly-reopened Sunderland bar in a £12,000 raid.
Varsity, in Green Terrace, which had stood derelict for two years, opened to much fanfare last month after a city businessman spent £150,000 revamping the nightspot.
Now thieves have ransacked the office, smashed gaming machines to access cash and stolen thousands of pounds worth of premium Champagnes and spirits.
Les Ojugbana, who took over the lease on the bar in a bid to breathe new life into Sunderland’s nightlife, said: “The cleaners went in this morning to find the bandits smashed. The thieves tried to smash the safe but couldn’t so smashed the gaming machines for cash, as well as taking stock including Moet, Veuve Clicquot, Malibu, Smirnoff and Bombay Sapphire.
“Police have been and found fingerprints in the machines and in the office so hopefully they’ll find out who’s responsible. A lot of hard work has gone into opening the bar so it’s devastating to have this happen.
“We estimate it’s cost £12,000 in theft and damage to equipment.”
According to the venue’s CCTV cameras, the incident happened at 5.36 this morning and shows two men in dark clothing entering the building with their faces covered.
Les Ojugbana, who also runs the adjacent Basement venue, took over the lease after the previous operators went into liquidation.
Though it occupies a prime position in the Galen Buildings, the 630-capacity pub had been empty ever since.
The name has stayed the same, but £150,000 has been ploughed into giving it a new identity inside with a new bar, flooring, booths and decor. The downstairs operates as a bar and bistro, while upstairs is Casa Rio tapas restaurant.
Speaking at the opening Les, who owns Gbana security which looks after the doors at many of the city’s pubs, said: “I believe in Sunderland’s night life and I wouldn’t take this on if I didn’t think it was viable.”
A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: “Police were called to a report of a burglary within Varsity pub on Green Terrace in Sunderland between 5.35am and 5.50am, today.
“Offenders had forced entry through the rear of the building and gaming machines had been broken into and a quantity of cash stolen.
“Police are appealing for witnesses or anyone who was in the area at the time who may have seen anyone acting suspicious. Extra officers are in the area.”
•Anyone who knows anything about the incident is asked to call Northumbria Police on 101, ext 69191 quoting 266 of 28/9/15.