Belfast Telegraph

It felt safer in Sao Paulo than it does in Belfast, says owner of raided Belfast takeaway

By Angela Rainey

The owner of a Mexican takeaway in east Belfast that was ransacked last week says he's horrified at the destruction involved to steal just £120.

Footage of two men in balaclavas was captured on CCTV at around 10.50pm as they used hammers to smash their way through the shop front of Taco Mex on the lower Newtownards Road on Thursday.

They made off with the till containing £120 in takings.

They also caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to the takeaway.

The £700 till was ripped from its wiring by the culprits during the raid.

It was later found dumped by police sniffer dogs.

Owner Andres Pazos (48), who works as a train engineer for NI Railways and is a volunteer for Macmillan at Antrim Hospital, opened the eatery four-and-a-half years ago.

He said he was shocked at the damage caused during the break-in, but said he was glad no one was in the premises at the time.

"I was driving a staff member home at 10.50pm, four minutes later the men had broken in," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"When I returned I did not know if there was anyone inside and whether they had guns, so I called the police.

"It was a shock that it had happened so quickly because it is not late and there would be people around.

"I was only gone for a few minutes.

"It was a very violent attack on the premises.

"I am glad I was not there, or the staff.

The CCTV footage showed the two robbers smashing the window and door with hammers, then ripping the till from its cables.

"I previously lived in Sao Paulo in Brazil for three years, where I was a train commissioner," Mr Pazos said.

"Sao Paulo is a very dangerous place, people are assaulted every day there.

"There is a lot of violence there but I never had problems, not like this.

"I never expected to see this level of violence in Europe, let alone Belfast."

Mr Pazos, who has lived in the city for 14 years, employs three staff who have been left saddened and nervous following the raid.

"We had to close for the day as forensics came and removed the till for testing," he explained.

"We used to have people come in sometimes after 10pm, but now we keep the door locked from 8.30pm.

"It is very sad that this has happened as we provide jobs for local people and we offer the people of Belfast quality Mexican food.

"I have customers who are both Catholic and Protestant and it is our policy that everyone is welcome.

"It is sad that someone has attacked the premises.

"We do not know why we were targeted, but it is like attacking the workers."

The PSNI said officers were probing the robbery and appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

"Police are investigating a burglary at a property on Newtownards Road in east Belfast on Thursday, October 19," police said.

"It was reported that shortly before 10.50pm an unknown male forced entry into a fast food outlet and stole a cash register containing a sum of cash.

"The shop was closed at the time of the incident and there was no one in the premises.

"Police are appealing for anyone with any information that can assist to contact officers in Strandtown on 101.

"Information can also be passed anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."

Belfast Telegraph

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