A car showroom has suffered £20,000 worth of damage after a pair of masked intruders broke in and stole two vehicles.
GT Hewett & Son Ltd in Portsmouth was targeted early yesterday (Mar 2) with CCTV footage showing the moment the thieves stole a Fiat 500 and an MG TF.
After trying to force the doors open to get the vehicles out of the showroom, the crooks resorted to using the cars as battering rams to make their escape.
The footage, recorded just before 3am on Wednesday, shows the hooded men smashing through the doors with the Fiat 500.
The dealership’s owner, James Hewett, says the thieves caused between £10,000 and £20,000 of damage to the building.
Several of the business’s other cars were also damaged in the raid, the Portsmouth News reports.
Hewett, a third-generation co-director of the business, lives next door to the showroom and was alerted to the theft by a neighbour about 5.50am.
He has worked full-time at the dealership for 15 years alongside his parents David, 77, and Susan, and said this was the first time the showroom had experienced a break-in like this. He’s unsure whether his insurance will cover the damage.
‘I would just question what right they think they have to come and damage other people’s property,’ he said.
‘People that have been in business for 60 years, and worked hard that whole time – I just question what right they think they’ve got to come and try and take that away from us.’
He added: ‘When you work hard, long hours, long days, seven days a week, it’s gutting that someone feels they have the right to damage your hard work and make things even more difficult than they are in the current climate.
‘Ultimately, we’ll carry on.
‘The wheels will keep turning, but it’s yet another project and something to resolve.’
And Hewett says he’s been ‘overwhelmed’ by support given to him from the tight-knit local community.
The business was inundated with messages of support and phone calls, with people even attending the showroom to help with the clear-up.
He said: ‘It has been really heartening to get so many phone calls, so many messages from people offering to literally stop what they’re doing today and come down and help us out, help us clear up and help us make the building secure.
‘It has just been an absolutely fantastic response from friends and from customers alike.’
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Investigation under way
Hampshire Constabulary have confirmed they are aware of the incident and are investigating the theft.
A spokesman for the force said: ‘We were called at 3.51am on Wednesday to a report of a break-in at GT Hewett & Son Ltd on Copnor Road.
‘Two vehicles have been reported as stolen following the incident.
‘An investigation is under way. Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting 44220084437.’