VIDEO: 'Things are bad enough without this'... Business owners left counting cost after thief smashes way into premises

A local business has been left counting the cost after a brazen thief smashed a rock through the front door of their premises and snatched the till's cash box in the early hours of Friday morning.

While the float in the till was relatively small, James and Leanne Power who run Chopped on Metges Lane are having to fork out for the cost of repairing the glass in the front door and replacing the cash box. They may also have to replace the front door frame itself and estimate that the overall cost to them will run to €1,500 to €2,000.

Leanne told how business is already challenging due to the knock on effect of the roadworks in the town as well as issues around anti-social behaviour on Metges Lane.

"Our business began really well. We provide healthy fast food but between the roadworks, and the anti-social behaviour on the laneway, business has become challenging for us. There is also the rise in ESB, then to add theft and robbery on to all this," she said.

Chopped was one of three businesses that were broken into within around thirty minutes of each other in the early hours Friday morning, 27th January.

Footage circulating on social media shows a man grab a large rock and smash the glass in the front door of the Chopped premises shortly after 4am and proceed to climb through the window, before grabbing the cash box from the till.

Around the same time, the front window of the nearby Insomnia cafe was broken with the suspect gaining entry and while damage was caused, it appears nothing was taken.

A short time later, a front window to Earl's Kitchen cafe on Cornmarket was smashed and the premises ransacked but according to Gardai, again it seems the culprit left empty-handed.

Gardai are investigating all three incidents but no arrest has yet been made.

These latest incidents follow a recent shocking assault on a store worker in a shop on nearby Market Square and have prompted calls for increased Gardai presence in the centre of the town.

James Power of Chopped, who also owns uPhone on Kennedy Road, said they saw a niche for healthy fast food during Covid and bought the franchise, also putting a huge investment into the building. They opened in December 2021 and business was going really well but James said the roadworks are "killing them" since they started in September with a knock-on 40-50 per cent drop in their business.

"Things are challenging enough without this. He actually smashed his way though toughened glass and climbed through it. He ripped cash drawer, and was in and out within 30-40 seconds," he said.

Leanne and James spoke of how anti-social behaviour is also a huge issue for businesses on Metges Lane.

Photo by Noelle Finegan

"I can guarantee 4pm today or any other day, they will be loitering , selling drugs, racketeering, absolutely terrorising businesses," said James.

They said they understand that Gardai are enormously under resourced but they need to see more gardai on the beat. James said they also want to see the Council give more attention to the area than just cleaning it up on a Monday morning.

"We employ four other girls here. It is not nice knowing what is going on and what you can see out the window. James' sisters are only 18 and they were terrified coming in here to work on Sunday," said Leanne.

James and Leanne Power who run Chopped on Metges Lane are having to fork out for the cost of repairing the glass in the front door and replacing the cash box.

She said even if the culprit is caught, he may only get a slap on the wrist. "I won't get my money back, I won't get my door frame replaced. I wont get my till money."

"We have our insurance, but between the 500 or 600 excess and then your premium goes up, it is a catch 22," added James.

They have thanked local businesses and their customers who got in touch offering their support and all those who responded to their appeal for information on their social media post.