Wheatley Hill pizza shop was burgled before thieves set the place on fire, police have said

Durham police has said that thieves stole goods before setting the shop alight.

Monday, 12th August 2019, 5:22 pm

The fire, which broke out at a pizza shop in Wheatley Hill in the early hours of Monday, August 12, is now being treated as a burglary and arson police investigating the shop fire have said.

The Pizza Nova take-away, at Peter Lee Cottages in Wheatley Hill, was only purchased by Yousef Hassan two-weeks ago.

A spokesperson for Durham Constabulary said: “Officers were called by the fire service at about 5.30am this morning (August 12), following an incident at the Pizza Nova takeaway in Wheatley Hill.

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Pizza Nova take-away in Wheatley Hill

“It is believed suspects have forced entry to the rear of the premises before taking goods and setting it on fire.

“The incident is currently being treated as burglary.”

PC Steven Larter, who is leading the investigation, said: “Enquiries are ongoing but we believe this is an isolated incident and we are doing everything we can to trace those responsible.”

Mr Hassan, from Middlesbrough, had spent all his savings on the business, which had been trading with the previous owner for over 12-years.

Police confirm that thieves broke in and stole items

The 23-year old, who was at the property while fire crews began their investigation, said: “There’s nothing to say. Everything is gone.

“This was my first business. I sunk all my money into the place and it was meant to be something for the future.

“I can’t believe it’s all gone.”

A spokesperson for the County Durham & Darlington Fire & Rescue Service said: “We were called to reports of a building fire at Peterlee Cottages, Wheatley Hill at 5:33am this morning (August 12, 2019). A fire engine from Peterlee and a fire engine from Wheatley Hill attended and confirmed a commercial premises was on fire.

Thieves caused damage to gain entry

“We used two breathing apparatus, two hose reels and stage two positive pressure ventilation to extinguish the fire. Our crews left the scene at 8:36am and there is currently a joint police/fire investigation to identify the cause of the fire.”

If you have any information, call 101 and ask to speak to PC Larter quoting crime reference number 41 of August 12, or calling crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.