Ram-raid on store

The moment of impact
The moment of impact

THIS is the moment a stolen 4x4 slammed into the front of a store during a botched ram-raid bid.

But the bungling crooks were forced to flee the scene empty-handed after the pick-up bounced off the reinforced front at the Londis shop in Elwick Road, Hartlepool.

Detectives confirmed the vehicle had been stolen earlier the same day and are now hunting the two men responsible.

Paul Grange was woken at 5am on Saturday to be told by police that his recently refurbished shop had been targeted an hour earlier.

He said: “They must have thought it was a vulnerable spot because the shutters don’t cover that bit, when in fact it’s reinforced because we were planning on putting a cash machine there. There is no cash left there overnight anyway.

“It is really disappointing. The people who did this have not done their homework very well, it was never going to be successful.

“This is something that people did back in the 1980s, they need to realise things have moved on and security is much tighter.

“It will cost us money to fix, but it is more inconvenient and annoying than anything else.”

Mr Grange has owned the store for more than 15 years and recently converted it from the Elwick Road Post Office to a Londis after buying a neighbouring property.

It opened in its new guise in January with nine staff members and Mr Grange said business had been going well - until the weekend.

He added: “I own this shop, it may say Londis on the front, but I run the business and we have to cover the costs.

“It’s not like big supermarkets that can pay for the damage, we will have to look at paying for it ourselves or going through the insurance.

“Small businesses cannot afford this kind of thing happening to them.”

Police had been alerted to the crime by a nearby resident who was woken by the loud bang.

The car was found to have done so little damage to the solid steel panel of the shop that it didn’t even set off the shop’s burglar alarm that is wired to the police station.

Detective Sergeant Peter Carr, of Hartlepool CID, said: “We confirmed the vehicle had been stolen earlier that day.

“We have also watched back the security footage and it is a poor attempt as they stood little chance of getting in.

“We would now appeal for any information about the incident.”

Security camera footage showed a man walking along the street and checking the side of the building before guiding his accomplice, who was behind of the wheel of the Mitsubishi, to the spot he wanted him to strike and diving out of the way as he accelerated over the kerb.

Both men, who were completely hidden under clothing, soon fled when they looked to see the store intact and the front of the car left in tatters.

If you have information that could help detectives, ring Hartlepool Police on (01642) 326326 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.