Famous Northern Ireland cafe Cafolla's burgled - 89-year-old matriarch left devastated
A coffee shop owner has told of his devastation after his elderly mother discovered they had been targeted by thieves as she went to open up the premises - the night before he was to take his son to a cancer clinic.
It's thought Cafolla's on Regent Street, Newtownards was targeted between 10am on Wednesday and 7.30pm on Thursday. Thieves came in through the roof, causing thousands of pounds of damage and making off with money.
Michael Cafolla's elderly mother Olivia, who turns 90 next week, was left very upset by the incident but the rest of the family were thankful that the thieves had fled by the time she arrived.
Owner Michael said: "My mum opens up in the morning, she's coming 90 next week, but still comes over in the morning and opens up for me.
"It was her that came in and found that they had come in through the ceiling at the top of the stairs. The ceiling was down and she realised the till was disturbed and that we had been broken into."
She then contacted Michael who was on his way. He added: "She was very upset. She's been in business a long time herself and knows it's not good coming into things like that."
The attack happened just hours ahead of the family accompanying Michael's 21-year-old son Thomas to start cancer treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Michael said: "This was our first appointment with the cancer clinic this morning.
"We were actually going to the cancer clinic when this happened. It's been a bit of a nightmare. It makes it less important about the money but just because of everything else going on it makes it worse. It couldn't have been a worse day because we were already stressed about that. He's due to start his treatment next week.
"It's treatable but will take six months of chemotherapy, so it will be severe on everyone."
Michael says the incident feels "very targeted" because of the way the thieves gained entry.
He said: "They seem to have scoped it out. They seem to know the place - they came in through the ceiling, as further down they would be in the hallway and a bit back they would be in the toilets."
The business also has a gift shop and had jewellery stolen last week.
A new security camera system was to be put in last night.
He added: "It's just horrific to be honest. I had a new camera system that was to be installed tonight - that's ironic as well.
"You couldn't make it up."
PSNI Sergeant Ossie McClean said police received a report shortly after 8am that entry had been gained into the premises and that a quantity of cash had been stolen. "I am appealing to anyone who was in the area between these times and saw any suspicious activity, or who knows anything about this incident to contact police in Newtownards on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference 207, 19/10/17, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."