Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland family's devastation as pub burgled twice in space of two days

By Stewart Robson

A family have been left distraught after their bar was targeted by burglars twice in two days over Christmas.

The Rendezvous, situated on Main Street in Newtownstewart, Co Tyrone, was ransacked in the early hours of Saturday, December 23 when cigarettes, alcohol and money were stolen.

A second break-in occurred on Christmas Day morning but the criminals escaped empty-handed from the family business, which has been in the town for 27 years.

Aaron Hempton, son of landlady Carol Hempton, said the family was devastated after going through the two ordeals over the busy festive period.

"About an hour and a half after closing up (on Saturday night) our alarm at home started flashing," he said. "I went down and opened the bar and saw that the stud wall had been busted.

"We've been in the building for years and I know the ins and outs of it and really couldn't believe they had chosen to bust down a wall to gain access. The doors are alarmed so whoever did this obviously knew behind the bar could not be triggered by an alarm."

The subsequent attack occurred shortly after the bar closed on Christmas Eve night.

Mr Hempton phoned the police at 2am once he knew what was happening.

"My mother had left to take two workers home who live locally. I thought I could hear noise upstairs but thought they'd never be back again," he said.

"My 16-year-old son and I were tidying up the bar and we heard pounding above us on the tin roof and that's when I think they heard us and made a run for it."

The effect of the robbery on Mr Hempton's 62-year-old mother, Carol, came to a head on Christmas Night.

"The lack of sleep and what happened is taking its toll.

"On Christmas night she was just sitting in tears," he said.

Mr Hempton said that because of the burglary, the bar made no profit over the holiday period.

"The cost of goods taken is roughly going to be around £5,000.

"With Friday being so busy as well it's even more devastating," he said. I'm 99% sure it was the same people. They came through an old fire escape after we sealed it the first night. It's not strangers that did it."

Forensic examinations have been carried out in the bar with police making no arrests at present.

Belfast Telegraph

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