BURGLARS who broke into Abergavenny’s Town Hall and Market over the weekend spent several hours vandalising rooms and the Borough Theatre’s bar.

The intruders are believed to have smashed their way in through a back door, before going from room to room, emptying cupboards, damaging fixtures, and stealing valuables.

The culprits then made their way into the market hall, before breaking into the popular cafe and trashing the inside, causing huge damage and forcing the business owners to lose thousands of pounds in lost trade thanks to a closure set to last for almost a week.

A police spokesman told the Chronicle that they received a report of a burglary at Abergavenny Town Hall, which ironically houses the town’s police station, at around 7.45am on Monday.

It happened sometime between Sunday 1 afternoon and Monday morning when unknown offenders entered the premises through force to a back door. It is unknown at this time if anything has been taken.

Police urged the public that if they have any information about this incident to please call Gwent Police on 101 quoting log 54 of 20/5/2019 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. or direct message them on Facebook or Twitter.

Market traders have told the Chronicle of the increasing tension as stallholders fear for the security of the premises.

One trader, who asked not to be named, said, ‘There is this sense now that people in the town are not safe anymore.

“We know the police cannot be everywhere and the officers we do have may be trying their best, but someone further up the rungs has got to realise that if there is no increase in police numbers then the criminals are going to win - simple as that.

‘We have the added stress at the moment of the front of the market being closed, which is not so much of a problem on Tuesdays because the traders in Brewery Yard bring customers around, but on Fridays and Saturdays our trade is almost half of what it was before. Thank goodness it is only temporary. And now we have the worry of break-ins on top of it.”

The proprietor of Abergavenny’s much-loved Market Cafe has told how she was devastated to be called in to her premises on Monday morning to find her business trashed by intruders.

Helen Todhunter has been running the cafe - part of the fabric of Abergavenny’s market life - for the past four years and has never experienced anything like this before.

She said, ‘They had smashed the door in with a fire extinguisher and there were empty beer cans and just about everything else thrown over the floor.

“They had smashed trays and trays of eggs and it was all mixed in with ice cream, marshmallows and tomatoes. You couldn’t see the floor.

‘The beer had been looted from the Borough Theatre’s bar upstairs and they must have thought they would have a party here in the cafe.

‘They had switched on various electrical appliances and set the sprinklers off. They switched off the freezer and squirted cream all over the walls.’

Helen, who runs the cafe with her husband added, ‘I haven’t been very well for the past few months and really could have done without this. It’s hard enough to earn a living as it is. It could have been much worse with the intruders risking a major fire by messing with high voltage electrical equipment.’

She was, however, full of praise for market staff and stallholders who she said had rallied round marvellously, helping with a clean-up operation that is going to keep the cafe closed until Friday or Saturday, but already the cafe has lost two of its busiest trading days. Her despondency was clear; a tired Helen told how the arrogant intruders even wrote on the fridge door, ‘You can’t catch what you can’t see.’

A spokesman for MCC said that security measures at the theatre had been improved in recent months A spokesman for Monmouthshire County Council which is currently in the process of refurbihsing the scaffolding clad town hall said, “In recent months we have experienced an increase in the number of attempted burglaries at Abergavenny Town Hall.

“As a result, we have increased our security measures which have included an increase in the number of CCTV cameras and provision of radios for staff and we have worked with our security advisors to commission additional intruder alarm detectors.

“Unfortunately not all of the intruder alarm detectors had been installed at the point of the most recent break-in.

“However, despite the intruders destroying one of the CCTV cameras, we were able to capture them on CCTV and footage has been provided to the police to support the prosecution of the alleged offenders.

“Our security advisor re-visited the building yesterday and we will implement any additional precautions proposed.

“The break-in will have no impact on the refurbishment works as we are determined that the actions of a minority of the community will not impact on the wider benefits that the new hub and refurbished town hall will provide,” he said.