ABOVE: Galileo?s owner Steve Wilkinson mans the broom prior to reopening his restaurant.
ABOVE: Galileo?s owner Steve Wilkinson mans the broom prior to reopening his restaurant.

Stores attacked

A VICIOUS attack on Kingscliff's beachside shopfronts has shattered the town's sleepy seaside reputation and left police baffled.

Shop owners yesterday awoke to the news that six stores along Marine Parade had been burgled overnight by thieves looking for cash.

Four shops in the town's Paradiso complex had their doors smashed by thieves, believed to be using a hammer, who then headed north to rob Cafe Sbiza and Travel Direct.

The floor-to-ceiling glass doors were in ruins in each shop yesterday, while cash registers and safes had been damaged inside.

It is believed the thieves got away with a few thousand dollars mostly in small change, except at two restaurants where the busy weekend's takings were still inside. Alcohol was also stolen.

Police said the robberies occurred between 10.30pm on Sunday and 6am on Monday, following a blackout that may have disarmed some of the shops' security alarms.

Acting Inspector Josh Burton said they had no suspects and have been unable to rule out that it was a crime of opportunity.

They are currently processing fingerprint and DNA data.

Acting Insp. Burton said the robberies had come as a surprise to the local station, which had reported a downturn in crime in the area recently.

"It is a place not known for break-ins over Christmas. There are always so many people walking by that this is a pretty brazen way to go about this," he said.

"We have got a proactive police response, so this doesn't happen all the time."

Acting insp Burton suggested out-of-towners may have been behind the robberies.

"It is the holidays and we don't usually have this type of crime, so you can draw that inference."

Cleaning up their glass-strewn premises yesterday, shop owners were not surprised to learn that Kingscliff might not be the sleepy seaside town it is perceived to be.

Kingscliff Gourmet Deli owner Michael Laverde said almost every weekend there was some petty vandalism in the town.

"There are a lot of drug addicts. This isn't a sleepy town anymore, so this comes as no surprise," he said.

"The pot plants outside get tipped over all the time."

Cafe Sbiza owner Lynne Grainger said her surprise was with the nearby residents.

"I'm surprised that no-one heard it and that the thieves had the gall to keep going. But this place isn't sleepy anymore. More people are coming here and that means a diversity of types," she said.

Acting insp. Burton said police had few witnesses to the attack, as the nearby tourist parks and units had emptied out over the weekend.

"We have done a canvass of the area, but everything is emptying out. It was a quiet opportunity," he said.

Police are appealing for witnesses who may have seen or heard anything relating to the robberies. Direct information to Tweed Heads Police on 5536 0999.



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