Shop owners have been left counting the cost after burglars swiped almost £8,000-worth of cigarettes from their store just weeks before Christmas.
The thieves struck at Dawdon Store in the Seaham area, taking hundreds of packets of cigarettes one night last week.
It has left Sumera Zaman and husband Ali, who have three girls together, thousands of pounds out of pocket.
Police have confirmed they are investigating the incident and have appealed for witnesses to contact them over the incident at the Queen Alexandra Road shop.
Mr Zaman discovered the theft when he went to open up the shop on Friday morning, believing the burglary took place sometime overnight on Thursday.
An amount of cash was also taken.
Speaking to the Echo, Mrs Zaman, 31, said: “They have got in through the roof of the stock room by taking the tiles off.
“They’ve taken a few hundreds packets of cigarettes and obviously it’s going to cost us thousands.
“It’s not ideal when it’s around a bit Christmas time that something like this happens.
“We are just getting by so it’s not like we have loads of money.”
It is not the first time that the shop has been targeted since the family took over running it in May 2011.
In June 2012 a masked attacker brandishing a large kitchen knife tried to rob the shop while Mr Zaman was behind the counter.
The raider made repeated demands for Ali to “put the money in the bag” after throwing over a plastic carrier, but the shop boss ran into the living quarters and locked the door behind him.
The would-be-thief, who was unable to reach over the counter and was shut out by a side perspex screen, fled without taking anything.
In 2016, three men attacked Mr Zaman, 33, with a knife and screwdriver while his family went inside the building after they had been to visit his wife’s father who was getting treatment in hospital.
And in April this year, wheels were stolen from Mr Zaman’s van.
The family have however vowed to carry on as normal.
“It’s very frustrating for us but we have to go on,” said Mrs Zaman.
“We just want to see people caught for what they have done and brought to justice.”
A spokeswoman for Durham Police said: “Police are investigating a suspected burglary at a convenience store in Seaham.
“The incident at Dawdon Store on Queen Alexandra Road is believed to have been broken into during the hours of darkness on Thursday, November 23.
“The suspects gained access to the premises through the roof and stole a number of cigarettes and cash.
“The investigation is ongoing.
“Anyone with any information is asked to call Durham Constabulary on 101, quoting incident number 70 of November 23.”