Family-run restaurant and cafe owners in Hornchurch town centre have bemoaned break-ins at their premises, with one criticising police over their alleged lack of response.

This morning (July 3) French's Cafe in North Street, family-run since 1998, was allegedly broken into between 5am and 7am, according to its owner.

Umberto's Italian restaurant, run by the same couple in High Street for 30 years, was reportedly burgled the previous day between 3am and 4.30am, its co-owner said.

CCTV provided to the Recorder by Gina Medaglia of Umberto's shows a previous alleged break-in at her restaurant on May 2. Gina said the restaurant window was smashed both times.

Mark French, of French's, and Gina claimed other businesses in the area had also been impacted.

A screengrab CCTV footage of the reported break-in at Umberto'sA screengrab from CCTV footage of the reported break-in at Umberto's in May (Image: Gina Medaglia)

Reacting to today's alleged burglary, Mark, 58, said: "As soon as I saw the shop this morning it left me with a sickening feeling which hasn't left me.

"For someone to come into your place, a private place, is a violation of your area," he added.

Mark said he was victim to a break-in at his cafe this morningMark French said he was victim to a break-in at his cafe (Image: Mark French)

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A Metropolitan Police spokesperson today (July 3) said officers are making "fast enquiries" into several burglaries in Hornchurch High Street this week.

Inspector Mark Connolly, Hornchurch police lead, said: "We understand how this impacts our local businesses, not just as a financial loss, but emotional wellbeing and sense of security. 

"Today, I was on patrol with my team looking at commercial crime trends within Hornchurch High Street and how we can improve safety for residents and reduce crime for businesses," he added.

But Gina, 45, who co-owns Umberto's with her husband Enzo, said she has not been sleeping at night in fear of another break-in.

A smashed window at Umberto'sA smashed window at Umberto's (Image: Gina Medaglia)

When asked what the biggest impact has been on her, Gina said: "If I'm honest emotionally. A few bottles of stolen vodka and gin aren't going to break the bank. Financially it's hard, but it's not going to stop me sleeping at night.

"But now I'm not sleeping at night," she added. "That restaurant is more my home than my home is, I feel violated."

Gina (left) said she is not sleeping at night due to the alleged break-insGina (with husband Enzo) said she is not sleeping at night due to the alleged break-ins (Image: Gina Medaglia)

Mark said these incidents occur far too often and lamented the loss of stock, cash and even money from his daughters' tip jar.

"It's been a very unpleasant experience and I wouldn't wish it on anyone," Mark said. "Of course I'm shut today and I can't open because I'm cleaning up."

French's door was smashed in, the photo showsFrench's door was smashed in, the photo shows (Image: Mark French)

Mark and Gina, after losing trading days, were adamant the culprit needed to be found, and Gina criticised the police for what she called their lack of action up until now.

"I'm so angry," she said. "The police have really let us down - the whole of Hornchurch has been let down by the police."

Umberto's has allegedly been hit by repeat break-insUmberto's has allegedly been hit by repeat break-ins (Image: Gina Medaglia)

Gina said she has lost around £600 and at least a day of business cleaning up the broken glass and installing replacement windows.

Mark was less critical of police and said he was satisfied with their response after a patrol car visited this morning, but called for those responsible to be found.

"The culprit has got to be caught, all culprits have to be caught," Mark said. "It seems to be the town as a whole has more and more less desirable people in it."

French's Cafe in Hornchurch was burgled this morning, its owner saidFrench's Cafe in Hornchurch was burgled on Wednesday morning, its owner said (Image: Mark French)

Both called for more police on the streets as a deterrent to future thefts.

"There's not one police car that has gone past for hours and hours during the night," Gina said. "At least have them driving through and around to have a look."

Mark acknowledged the pressures police are under, but said there could be a stronger punishment for those caught.

Insp Connolly added that a "strong" police presence remains on the high street and forensics teams are working on leads.