A BUSINESSMAN says he is devastated after thousands of pounds’ worth of stock was damaged when youngsters broke into his store.
Police and firefighters were called after the store of tea company All About Tea was ransacked and a fire was started.
The Southsea firm in Middle Street is a tea blender and packer and makes the local brew, Portsmouth Tea.
Police say they have spoken to two boys in connection with the offences and will be talking to their parents this week.
The youngsters have not been arrested and police would not confirm their ages, although it is understood they are under 10.
Andrew Gadsden, founder of All About Tea, said: ‘I was driving out of the garage when I saw the fire engines.
‘The children broke into my place and ransacked the outbuilding.
‘They pulled all the shelves over and tipped out all the bottles of cleaning fluids and oils all over the floor.
‘All the Christmas decorations are kept there which they then stole lots of. They started a fire with them.
‘It was in a doorway of one of the blocks of flats. That resulted in somebody calling the fire brigade. In actual fact the fire was very small.’
Now Mr Gadsden is counting the cost of the damage.
‘I’ve lost at least £1,000,’ he said.
‘The big problem, aside from the fact that this was my only afternoon off and I’ve spent it cleaning up, is that I’m not going to be able to make any earl grey tea until I have got new supplies.
‘I do have good suppliers but it will take a couple of weeks.
‘Earl greys are some of the most popular teas.
‘It’s frustrating but it’s more like all the wind has been knocked out of me.
‘It feels like we have been invaded, just for two or three minutes’ worth of messing around.
‘It’s extremely demoralising.
‘They climbed in, forced the door and totally wrecked the inflammable store.
‘The natural oils we use for making earl grey and other flavoured teas are highly volatile.
‘They are also extremely expensive.’
Five fire engines from Cosham and Southsea fire stations were called, after initially being informed that the fire had spread to a high rise block of flats.
Police have confirmed that they are investigating and two young boys have been spoken to.
Inquiries are continuing. Anyone with information is asked to contact Fratton police station on 101 or call the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.