THE owner of the Southsea Model Village has spoken of her despair after her business was broken into four times in three weeks.
Janet Neil told The News ‘there is nothing left to steal’ and said thieves even took money from the popular seafront attraction’s wishing well and mechanical ride-on elephant.
During the latest raid on Sunday night, the intruders smashed all the office doors around the model village in a hunt for valuables and cash.
Staff arrived in the morning on Monday to a scene of devastation and had to close for the morning to repair damage and clean up the mess.
Ms Neil said the recent break-ins had cost them hundreds of pounds in stolen funds, but that they were just the latest in a long line of thefts.
‘We get burgled all the time,’ she said. ‘The most recent time they didn’t take much, because we hardly had anything left.
‘On an earlier occasion they broke into our kitchen, which we had just had stocked for the summer, and took everything.
‘From bottles of Coke to hams, all the stock we had bought in was stolen. We had to replace it all and reinforce the doors after that.
‘So every time they strike it costs us money not just because of what they take, but the repairs we have to make and the time we have to spent closed.’
Over the past eight years, when she has owned and operated the model village with her partner, Ms Neil said there have been at least 30 break-ins.
She added that even a security camera across the road was no help to them – because it faces the wrong way.
Now they are going to reinforce doors and windows but don’t believe there is anything more that they or the police can do to stop people getting in.
‘We are right on the seafront, very visible and vulnerable,’ she said. ‘And it preys on our minds.
‘I really do love this village, but at night we will often wake up and come down here to check everything is alright, it gives us a lot of stress.
‘And we’ve been told if we try to protect ourselves – such as with a dog or spikes on the fence – we could be sued if someone gets hurt.
‘I don’t think there is anything that can be done.
‘It has got to the point where we are almost just numb to it, and regard it as part of the job.
‘But that shouldn’t be how we have to run our business – in constant fear.’
A spokesman for Hampshire Constabulary said anyone who has information about the break-ins can call on 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.