Belfast Telegraph

Thieves who targeted my children's clothing shop are pathetic, says owner

By Jonathan Bell

The owner of a Co Antrim children's clothing shop left devastated after a burglary said she will rebuild and not allow the "scum" behind it to ruin her business.

Sometime between 6pm on Monday and 9am on Tuesday thieves broke into The Old Town Bank building in Church Street in Ballymoney.

They raided three businesses in the premises, with a children's clothing store called Bumble & Bee the worst affected.

It's thought the thieves filled bin bags full of designer clothes including Frugi, Tutto Piccolo, Tuc Tuc, Kite and Grassmen labels.

A specialised line in premature baby clothing was also taken and substantial damage done.

Owner Susan McAuley said her heart was in her mouth when she opened up on Tuesday only to find shelves and rails stripped bare.

"I was gutted - this has had to have been planned," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"There is no way this was a spur of the moment thing. It takes a bit of effort to get into the back of the shop, to scale a barbed-wire wall and break in.

"They knew what they were doing and took their time about it.

"I couldn't believe it when I opened the shop. Scum would be the only way I could describe them. They are pathetic."

Susan estimates the cost of the theft will easily stretch into thousands of pounds.

"We are a small independent retailer, our stock is our livelihood and it's tough competing against the internet. Every penny counts - it's a big hit.

"But we will come back from this, of that I am certain."

Susan said the bulk of the stock taken would be very recognisable and quite rare to find in Northern Ireland. She believes it has been stolen, however, to sell online.

"If anyone finds it on a market stall at a good price somewhere then they should think to ask questions.

"It didn't get there by accident. Also all the products have my own Bumble & Bee labels which are not too easy to remove, so they should leave a mark."

Susan (28), a trained optician and mother of three children aged four, two and one, first opened a shop across the road from her current business two years ago before expanding.

The wife of a dairy farmer, her business was targeted by thieves in the old premises.

That time only cash was taken.

"I don't know what's worse," she added.

"You would have thought moving in to an old bank, security would have been a bit tighter and it's harder to break in.

"The response we have had from the community since word spread around the town has been very positive and supportive. Everyone has been disgusted.

"It's only a small town and when you don't have the stuff to sell, it makes business all the more harder.

"We are hoping and praying our insurance has some cover.

"We would just appeal to everyone to keep their eyes open if they see the clothes, but we don't hold out much hope of getting them back."

Police are appealing for information.

Belfast Telegraph

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