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Oldest tea room in Norfolk broken into and cash stolen

PUBLISHED: 12:54 22 January 2019 | UPDATED: 14:34 22 January 2019

Co-owners of the Owl Tea Rooms in Holt - Claudia Pollinger and Ben Philo. Pictures: David Bale.

Co-owners of the Owl Tea Rooms in Holt - Claudia Pollinger and Ben Philo. Pictures: David Bale.

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Thieves smashed a window to break into a tea room in Holt and stole about £200 from inside.

The smashed window at the Owl Tea Rooms in Holt.  Picture: Claudia PollingerThe smashed window at the Owl Tea Rooms in Holt. Picture: Claudia Pollinger

Ben Philo, co-owner of the Owl Tea Rooms, spotted the break-in when he went to the shop on Monday, January 21 to do some maintenance work.

He said the shop in White Lion Street had closed about 4.30pm on Sunday, so the offence must have taken place overnight on Sunday/ Monday.

Mr Philo said: “It’s irritating and very disappointing for us. They stole charity money, petty cash and tips, worth about £200.

“They gained access by smashing a window on Church Street and climbing through.

“They left a footprint on a seat cushion then finger prints on a vodka bottle, which they left behind. They must have been distracted when they saw the charity money.

“Luckily, another charity money box, for the Holt Christmas lights appeal, was not there, as we had taken it home, as it was full.

“As charity money was taken you feel you have to replace it. But I suppose it’s better than having a domestic break-in, as you don’t feel so violated. We had to hoover all the glass up.”

It says on the store’s website that it is a very special place as it is, arguably, the oldest tea room in Norfolk.

Mr Philo added: “The petty cash was locked in a safe drawer in the restaurant, which they broke the lock on.

“All traders in Holt should be aware of the increase in crime at this time of year, especially as Holt is so deathly quiet in the small hours. The police have taken shoe and finger prints.”

A Norfolk police spokesman said: “We were called at 8.15am on Monday to reports of an overnight burglary. A side window had been smashed. We are investigating. Anyone with information should call Norfolk police on 101.”

Mr Philo and co-owner Claudia Pollinger took on the tea rooms in 2017.

They said they had done their best to “embrace and preserve the long-held traditions of this iconic bakery and café”.

The tea room and cafe celebrates its 90th anniversary this year.

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