A Newtownstewart businessman has described how he came to within three minutes of intercepting burglars ransacking his shop.
Charlie Hamilton who runs Hamilton’s Spar on Lower Strabane Road in Castlederg, was alerted in the early hours of Monday morning by the security company which monitors his shop’s alarms. However, it wasn’t until he attended the shop that he realised it had been burgled and also that he came within a hair of encountering the culprits.
“They broke into the office and had a go at getting the safe out,” Mr Hamilton explained. “They only got away with a bit of petty cash but they caused a lot of disruption and broke some stuff, trying to get at the safe.
“They had come tooled up and they busted in through the fire-escape door.”
Although it was too dark to pick up the getaway car’s number plate, police are now appealing for a red VW Golf or a similar vehicle which may have been used by the offenders.
“They were lucky,” Charlie Hamilton continued. “It was too dark for the CCTV to pick up their number plate. I also missed them by about three minutes.
“The only plus is that at least no-one was hurt. It’s just the disruption and annoyance we are dealing with. Everyone is back at work and no-one feels threatened or anything.”
He added, “There’s still a possibility someone local will have spotted a red Golf between 2.30am and 3.30am on Monday. Maybe someone was driving past at that time and caught something on their car’s dashcam.”
The PSNI has subsequently issued an appeal for information.
Sergeant Robb said: “Shortly before 4.10am, it was reported that entry was gained to a shop in the area. A sum of money was taken during the incident and damage was caused to the front of the property.
“It is believed that the offenders spent some time inside the building and may have been in the area from around 2am up until 4am.
“We believe that a red VW Golf or a similar vehicle may have been used by the offenders and would appeal for anyone with any information about this vehicle to make contact.
“Enquiries are continuing and we are appealing for anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area to contact police on 101, quoting reference number 145 22/10/18. Alternatively, information can also be provided anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”