The Crown Inn in Elsenham: Community rallies to fund security improvements for pub targeted by burglars for second time in a month
The community in Elsenham has stepped in to help fund improved security at its village pub after burglars struck for the second time in less than a month.
The Crown Inn publican Aaron Fennell said he had been "amazed" by the response from people after raiders forced their way in to the occupied pub in High Street overnight last Saturday (Jan 9).
Windows were smashed, the cellar door broken into and locks damaged as the thieves made off with a haul of alcohol and food. During a break-in on December 16-17, more than £1,000 of meat was stolen from the pub's cold storage.
Aaron, who also runs the Marne Inn in Thorley Park, Bishop's Stortford, said both businesses were struggling during the coronavirus pandemic and this latest burglary was another savage blow. He feared the intruders could come a third time.
"I'm just drained by all this," he said. "In total, we lost between £1,600 and £2,000, but the preventative costs will be more.
"We have CCTV internally, but we need to put in an intruder alarm, outside CCTV, and these additional costs in these times... we don't need them because we haven't made any money this year."
An appeal for information or witnesses to the crime via the pub's social media pages prompted offers of support from villagers and Aaron launched a £5,000 online appeal to enable people to donate. As of Friday morning (Jan 15) the total stood at £615.
"It's just so frustrating and the stress of it all is getting to me. With no work and no money and then to get a phone call saying the pub's been broken into again, it's just too much.
"The police haven't done any investigations for either burglary so I feel a bit alone with it all," said Aaron, who suffers from cystic fibrosis and is shielding ahead of a hospital visit.
"The community have been great, they've been amazing actually. People have been messaging me to say they'd like to put some money towards the preventative measures and suggested I set up this fund-raising page.
"I don't want people to think I'm greedy, but it's difficult times and we've been hit harder than most. People have been very supportive and I cannot thank them enough for that."
Responding to criticisms that police had not acted, a spokesperson for Essex Police said: "We understand burglary is a distressing crime and has an emotional and physical impact on victims.
"Unfortunately, in the two incidents reported to us, there were limited enquiries that could be made to identify the suspects based on the information provided, and there were no CCTV or forensic opportunities available.
"Any new evidence that becomes available will be considered and officers will contact the victim to provide crime prevention advice."
To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/aaron-fennell-crown.