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A landlady locked herself upstairs whilst “fearless” burglars smashed apart five fruit machines in her pub – this was the second raid in the area in half an hour.

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Claire O’Mahoney live-in general manager of The Good Intent, South End Road, Hornchurch, awoke at 6.30am after hearing noises in the pub below on December 3.

She said: “I walked downstairs and there was a man wearing a hoodie, he just stood their in front of me smashing the machine.”

He told her to “F*** off” before she fled to the living quarters upstairs and locked in before calling 999.

“They had no fear,” she said.

Deputy Manager, Peter Merritt, said: “They came in through the side door and then they smashed the machines to pieces.

“They did so much damage. They used rocks to smash through the screens.”

He said that they had broken through the front of the machines to get the “hoppers” (the boxes where coins for payouts are held). Each of these hold up to £350 and the vandals got away with five.

The police believe two people were involved in the incident but the pub did not have CCTV cameras to catch the offenders.

As little as 20 minutes previously The Compasses, Abbs Cross Lane, Hornchurch, which is just 1.4miles up the road, had also been hit.

The police believe the two are connected.

A spokesperson from the Harvester brewery who own The Compasses said: “A burglary took place in early hours of Tuesday morning last week. Fortunately no one was hurt. There was damage to the fruit machines and ATM, and a small amount of cash was stolen from the fruit machines.”

These incidents follow a string of raids at pubs. There were six pub robberies between June and September this year.

Fruit machines were all the main targets in these and the police believe they were linked.

One incident was at the Durham Arms, Romford. The landlady had also described their fearless demeanour.

She said: “They didn’t even run off – they walked off. The sheer disrespect is just unbelievable.”

The string of incidents began in June with a raid on Romford’s Mawney Arms and stole about £1100 of food – apparently to fuel a lavish barbecue.

In August they were hit again, this time to raid the fruit machine.

The Slaters Arms in London Road, the Windmill in Upminster Road and the King Harold in Station Road have also been targeted.

The police are appealing for information and anyone with information is asked to contact Havering CID via 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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