Crowdfunding page launched to help culture hub Pop Recs after venue is targeted by thieves

Thousands of pounds has been raised for Pop Recs after the culture and community hub was broken into for the fifth time in two years.

The community interest company (CIC) has brought new life to once-dilapidated buildings at the bottom of High Street West, creating a coffee shop and venue that hosts everything from music sessions for young people with learning difficulties and book fairs to spoken word nights and gigs from the likes of Dave Stewart, Smoove & Turrell and many more.

It took three years of painstaking restoration, a million pounds of investment and a whole lot of heart and soul to be able to finally open the venue in November last year, in memory of one of its founders Dave Harper.

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Pop Recs comprises both a coffee shop and venue

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While renovation works took place, it was broken into three times and since it opened for business it has fallen victim to thieves a further two times.

The latest incident took place in the early hours of Saturday (August 13), in which the main door to the venue was damaged and sound desk equipment and a laptop stolen.

It’s a disappointing blow for the business which is doing much to boost the cultural landscape of the city, but the directors say they’ve been touched by the support of the community in light of the break-in.

A Crowdfunding page was launched at the weekend to help pay for more security at the site and it has already raised more than £2,500 – 10 times the target of £250.

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Dan Shannon is one of the directors at the CIC

Dan Shannon, one of the Pop Recs directors, said: “He was in and out in a minute and couldn’t get what he was after, which was cash, but the damage he’s left behind costs thousands.

"If it was just a case of replacing the door and make doing and mend, we could probably absorb that cost. But we want to put in an extra layer of security with a roller shutter behind the front door so they can’t get into the venue.”

Speaking about the response from the community, Dan said: “It’s been so heartening. Lots of people came down at the weekend to show their support and have a coffee. We didn’t want to put on people with a Crowdfunder, but the cost of replacing the doors alone is the best part of £2,000. For people to donate in the way they have is amazing. This place is so important for them, so a break in is a kick in the teeth for them, too.

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"It’s also a wider situation we’re dealing with here, with businesses like Spent Grain and CoffeeHaus also being broken into.”

The thief forced his way through the front doors

He added: “Since we opened, the cafe and venue has really established itself. It’s become a great, alternative space for people to have a coffee, watch a gig or host a party. We want good things happening in the city, but we can’t seem to get a grip on the crime down here. It’s really disappointing.”

A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: “An investigation has been launched following a burglary at Pop Recs on High Street West, Sunderland, at 1.15am on Saturday (August 13).

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“An offender broke into the premises and stole a number of items from inside, before making off.

“Enquiries are ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact police via the ‘Tell Us Something’ page of our website or by calling 101 quoting crime number 095139F/22.”

The buildings had been empty for years before being brought back to life

You can donate to the Pop Recs Crowdfunder here.

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The coffee shop serves drinks, brunches and lunches
Inside the new Pop Recs Ltd venue on High Street West.