Sunderland's Tin of Sardines counts the cost after fourth break-in in five months
It’s breathed new life into a once-empty Victorian building and has proved a huge asset to Roker, but the city’s Tin of Sardines bar is counting the cost after four break-ins in five months.
The bar in Pier View opened in summer last year as part of a wave of investment in the seafront and is owned by the Davis family.
But, the independent business has been left counting the cost after suffering four break-ins in five months, most recently overnight on Monday, January 16 into the morning of January 17.
Bar manager Chris Paterson say it’s hugely frustrating for a small business which is trying to bring something new to the city.
While thieves have only got away with a few bottles of gin and float money in the past, the escalating costs of the damage caused by the break-ins is hitting the business hard. The most recent incident saw a suspect use an axe to access the building.
"As time has gone on, they’ve got away with less and less and last time it was only two bottles of Gordon’s gin, but the sheer volume of cash that has to be taken out of the business for the damage caused is huge. Especially for a business in its first year, when you’re lucky to break even,” said Chris.
He added: “The only saving grace is how well we have been supported by the community and the number of people visiting, otherwise we couldn’t have continued.
"We had only just got our till back in after the last break-in, and had been forced to operate as card only, before the most recent incident.”
The bar is now looking at ways to make the business more secure with shutters, which pushes the cost up further, and Chris says they may look at running a Go Fund Me campaign to help.
He added: “I live locally and have been followed home by people, at one point held at knife point, thinking I have money on me, which I don’t. It’s hugely frustrating that all the support we’ve received is undermined by a small minority.”
With its terrace overlooking the pier and all day offering of brunches and coffees through to tapas and speciality gins, Tin of Sardines has been a hospitality success story, that’s visited by thousands of people each week.
It was huge undertaking to transform the old toilet block and tram shed, which had been empty for a number of years.
A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: “Shortly before 1am on Tuesday, we received a report of a burglary at Tin of Sardines in Roker, Sunderland.
“Offenders forced entry to the premises before stealing a quantity of alcohol and making off from the scene.
“An investigation into the burglary is ongoing.”
This week, the Vaux Brewery and Taproom, also in Roker, was dealt a blow after being broken into overnight on Sunday, January 15.
Staff at the brewery in Monk Street arrived at 7am on Monday to find the site had been broken-into overnight, with vandals using a vehicle to ram the site's gate and gain entry to the premises.
Police confirmed enquiries are ongoing into the incident.