Cafe regulars donate thousands after it is trashed by burglars

By Tim McNulty

A popular community cafe hit by a brazen burglary last weekend was helped back on its feet after customers raised thousands of pounds to repair the damage.

Supporters of the Old Cottage cafe in Charlton Park, which was wrecked in the raid, rallied to raise more than six thousand pounds in only four days.

Police were called at 8:24 am on Sunday January 27 to reports of a burglary at the cafe. They found a quantity of cash was reported stolen.

Regular customer Simon Short set up a GoFundMe page after seeing pictures of the extensive damage caused by the thieves and the work being done to clear it up, pictured above.

Mr Short said: “It’s one thing for someone to break and steal a till with all the takings but the fact they trashed it too is horrible and that is the thing that really annoyed everybody.

“If there was anything we could do to help, I would have got down there, got the gloves on and helped them clear up myself but I realised something I could do straight away was set a fundraising page up.

“The page went crazy. At one point my phone pinged once every 10 seconds with new donations.”

The fundraiser’s original target of £1,000 was smashed within 24 hours.

Mr Short added: “The owners do such amazing stuff down there, the cafe is genuinely a hub for the community.

“On Christmas Day every year they do a free meal for the elderly and people who are on their own. They have got so many friends – people who genuinely value the place. That is why the response was as impressive as it was.”

Owner Michael Lauricourt, who runs the cafe with wife Mimi, said: “We had a lot of people ringing up asking what they could do. People just turned up to bring us teas and coffees and help us to board it all up.

“People know we will always be there for the community and I feel like that is why the community is now saying thanks.”

Michael and Mimi took to Twitter to thank people for their support.

They wrote: ”We would like to thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts for the generosity and support shown.

“It has been overwhelming and the response has been incredible. We cannot thank you all deeply enough.”

Inquires are ongoing into the burglary, which is believed to have happened between 4:40pm on Saturday, 26 January and 8:24 am on Sunday, 27 January.

Anyone one with information can contact police on 101 (quoting CAD 2001/27JAN) or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The couple hope to re-open the Old Cottage Cafe this week. Backers looking to donate can do so here: https://www.gofundme.com/get-the-old-cottage-cafe-charlton-back-on-its-feet

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