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20 freelance Hastings traders targeted in series of break-ins

Around 20 companies were hit last month. John Bownas, director of Love Hastings Ltd, said the issue had become “significant”.

The vegan and vegetarian restaurant The Hempist, at Marine Parade, was robbed in the middle of the night.

Dan Wiltshire, owner, said: “We had all of our CBD (cannabidiol) products taken, along with petty cash, bar stock and charity boxes. Around £3,500-4,000 of items were stolen.

Dan Wiltshire outside The Hempist in Hastings.

He reported the break-in to the police and shared CCTV footage. The door was broken down and the premises were ransacked.

Dan said, “Commercial crime is not victimless. This terrified our remaining staff above and our elderly neighbors. Insurance premiums and deductibles make the claim unattractive, which is simply additional costs to absorb. We are a small, niche restaurant trying to do business in some of the toughest environments. »

Dan opened his restaurant in March 2020, just days before the start of the first Covid lockdown.

John Bownas said burglaries had been a “huge problem” for sole traders in recent weeks.

He added: “This has been a significant problem for many businesses. The criminals involved generally targeted small cafes, shops and hairdressers, and along with the items and money that were stolen, most of the victims were faced with large repair bills to replace broken doors, locks or glazing.

“At a time when businesses are facing spiraling energy costs and prices charged by their other suppliers are also skyrocketing, these thefts are the last thing anyone needs.

“Love Hastings is funded and supported by local businesses, and it is at times like these that we are able to repay that investment by offering crime prevention advice, as well as working proactively with the police to help identify suspects and gather evidence.

“An arrest has been made so far, and this appears to have put an end to the break-ins, but investigations are continuing to gather further evidence on other possible suspects.”

Sussex Police have been approached for comment.