Residents of Bridge of Allan and Dunblane are shocked after a spate of break-ins in the town.
The Beech Tree Cafe in Dunblane was robbed at 9.10 p.m. on Friday, January 13.
The Wee Timorous Beastie Cafe and Hair @ 31B in Bridge of Allan were broken into the following weekend on Friday, January 19 at approximately 11 p.m.
Ciao Cafe was also broken into on Monday, January 23 at 10.30 p.m.
The four break-ins have some marked similarities: glass doors were smashed to gain access to the properties and very little was stolen from any of the businesses. In all these break-ins, the cost of cleaning up and replacing doors and damaged equipment was greater than what was stolen.
The suspects are thought to be young, aged 16-17, and have been carrying out these quick smash-and-grab robberies in various locations before escaping by train. All of the targeted locations are just a few minutes from local train stations.
Hayley Menichetti, who owns Ciao Cafe with her husband Marco, said that these break-ins have been extremely shocking to the local community: “We’ve been open for over four years and nothing like this has ever happened before.”
This shock has been echoed by others.
Speaking to Daily Record, Beech Tree Cafe owner Trisha Smith said: “This attack was completely unexpected and out of character for Dunblane.”
Amanda Stevenson, owner of Hair @ 31B, and a member of staff at The Wee Timorous Beastie Cafe who wished to remain unnamed, also expressed a similar sentiment.
“Stuff like this doesn’t happen in Bridge of Allan,” said Amanda.
“I’m absolutely shocked at how brazen these break-ins are,” said Ciao Cafe owner Hayley.
“We have CCTV and they didn’t even check for it, they didn’t cover their faces, and our upstairs neighbours were home with their lights on!
“Honestly, I’m really glad that it wasn’t worse. Nobody got hurt and they only damaged the door and the till. They didn’t smash the place up. But after speaking with the police, it seems like they will just get a slap on the wrist. The officers assigned to the case worked really hard to identify them but seemed frustrated – they said they don’t get any say in sentencing.”
Amanda also said she was relieved at this, telling Brig: “If they had smashed my basins and ripped up the chairs then I don’t know where I’d be. Obviously, the door and the damage they did to the floor is an unexpected expense, but it could have been so much worse.”
The affected business owners have all received an outpouring of support from the local community, with Amanda saying: “Several clients have been in to see if I’m okay, it’s really heartwarming.”
Local resident Matthew Addison said that crimes of this nature are out of character for Bridge of Allan: “I think I’ll probably replace the lock on my front door with something more secure after this.”
Some of the local business owners have said that these break-ins have encouraged them to take their security more seriously.
A staff member at Wee Timorous Beastie said: “When you think about it, it does kind of make sense. The cost-of-living crisis is making people desperate. People are suffering – maybe they don’t feel like they have any other choice.”
Stirling MP Alyn Smith has spoken out about the break-ins, calling for tougher measures. He wrote to Stirling Area Commander Chief Investigator Caroline Logan to encourage the police force to work closely with the community on these crimes.
In response to the MP’s calls for increased measures to safeguard businesses in the town, Inspector Andy Bushell said: “Officers in Forth Valley Division of Police Scotland work closely with a number of partners including the local authority in order to tackle issues which are of most concern to people who live in the local area.”
The police were approached for a comment on this article but have not responded.
Featured Image Credit: Ali Rees
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