Thieves ransacked a restaurant as their stripped the business of cash and booze in the second raid at the premises in a week.
The Funky Indian Tapas in Tavistock Place, Sunderland, was targeted after it closed up for business in the early hours, with staff returning to start their next shift discovering a scene of devastation.
The raiders ripped out a safe, which contained an undisclosed sum of money and important documents, dragged it out into the yard and broke their way in, snatched a float from the till and swiped bottles of spirits and prosescco from the bar.
Staff lockers were also cleared of valuables.
The burglary, which was the second in a week after a break-in days earlier where nothing was taken, forced the business to remain shut for the lunchtime service.
The closure allowed the team, along with volunteers, to clear away the mess left by the break-in, as well as police to carry out forensic tests at the scene.
It was psychologically upsetting for the staff to see all that and the inconvenience for us, because we work hard.Kam Chera
Other restaurants offered to take on its bookings, with Funky Indian’s team helping them reach the alternative venues, while take aways and others have offered help to owner Kam Chera.
He said: “It was psychologically upsetting for the staff to see all that and the inconvenience for us, because we work hard.
“It’s not a nice feeling, knowing your own business has come to harm.
“Others have called up to offer their stock, and I didn’t take it, but the fact they offered was enough.
“We’ve had phone calls and messages from people and other offers so that we could reopen.
“The local businesses helped while we made a temporary fix.”
Mr Chera, who also runs El Amor upstairs in the Harbour View in Roker, has said he has been moved by the response from the community.
Brands of spirits including Absolute and Smirnoff were among those taken by the burglars.
Mr Chera believes two or three people are responsible for the break ins.
The first happened last Sunday, when nothing was stolen, with the second raid carried out between Friday night and Saturday morning.
In the latest attack, the thieves forced their way into the rear of the building, breaking in via the ducts and then through the ceiling.
The theft and damage is estimated to have cost the business up to £3,000, with Mr Chera yet to establish whether it will be claimed through its insurer.