Break-in at Durham Arms, Romford, is sixth pub raid in Havering since June - police appeal

Chef Lewis Page in the Mawney Arms freezer that was broken into

Chef Lewis Page in the Mawney Arms freezer that was broken into - Credit: Archant

Brazen crooks smashed their way through pub doors with a club hammer and broke open a fruit machine to steal hundreds of pounds – before casually walking off.

Chef Lewis Page in the Mawney Arms freezer that was broken into

Chef Lewis Page in the Mawney Arms freezer that was broken into - Credit: Archant

The early-morning raid, captured on the Durham Arms’s CCTV system, so terrified the landlady she was afraid to give the Romford Recorder her surname for fear of reprisal.

It was the latest in a string of pub burglaries in Havering since June. So far, six break-ins have been reported, with fruit machines the main target. Police believe the incidents are linked.

Now staff and police are appealing for information to track down the thieves.

“I feel awful,” said the landlady, who wished only to be known as Chelle.

“I was in pieces – seeing the doors kicked in was really upsetting.

“People live above the pub so they were doing that to someone’s home. It’s scary what they could have done if someone had walked in.

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“It’s such small money, too – I can’t understand why they would want to do that.

“They weren’t breaking through locks – they were smashing through the doors. I saw the hammer they had.

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

But Chelle added her regulars had rushed to the post “absolutely brilliant”.

“The locals were straight in, helping pick up the pieces,” she said. “We were here until 11pm.

“If it wasn’t for them I probably would have fallen apart.”

The string of raids began in June when burglars broke into Romford’s Mawney Arms – apparently to fuel an £1,100 barbecue.

“I went to unlock the fridges in the morning and I noticed they were already open,” said chef Lewis Page, 19.

“They’d taken our bread box and shoved all the meat in there.

“All the things they took were things you’d use for a barbecue – burgers, ribs, gammon, steak and even a packet of burger buns.

“It was about £1100 of food, and the kitchen was closed until 4pm so we lost a lot of trade.”

That break-in took place on June 5. In addition to Wednesday’s Durham Arms break-in on Wednesday, thieves have targeted the Slaters Arms in London Road on August 8; the Windmill in Upminster Road, Upminster, on August 20; the King Harold in Station Road, Harold Wood, on August 24; and the Mawney Arms again, this time to raid the fruit machine, also on August 24.

Supt Tony Bennett of Havering Police said: “The services provided by our local pubs are valuable social outlets for many people. Please help us protect this service for the community.

“If you have information that can help us put a stop to these crimes please make the call and leave the rest to us.”

Call 101, or dial 0800 555 111 and speak to Crimestoppers anonymously.