A morning to forget at Moonee
MOONEE Beach shop owners are close to breaking point after smash and grab raids resulted in thousands of dollars worth of damage.
A police taskforce is hunting a gang of at least five males thought responsible for yesterday morning's brazen attacks and a string of other break and enters across the Mid North Coast over the past month.
The bandits - who have been using stolen cars to execute their heists - tried to hotwire two vehicles at Moonee before heading south to target premises at Urunga, Bellingen and Nambucca Heads.
Moonee Beach Takeaway owner Wendy Bond was forced to close for the day as repairmen moved in on the shopping strip.
"What's the point of trying to build a business up and make a go of something when you have destructive idiots," she said.
"It's just heartbreaking. This is my third break-in in 18 months.
"We're only just getting on top in what's been a bad year for trading and now I have to spend money on this.
"They tried to steal drinks and smashed the till to try and get it but failed."
Next door at Suave Hair, also forced to turn away customers, owner Lynda O'Neill and her staff were on the go all day sweeping shattered glass and cleaning up.
"I think they were looking for cash. They rifled through things," she said.
Accountant Ron Perry was relieved the hoodlums weren't more destructive at his office but it was enough to close him down for half the day.
"You don't like getting calls from the police at 3.30am because you always think the worst. It's just a nightmare call," Mr Perry said.
At the nearby Moonee Beach Veterinary Surgery, glass shards were strewn throughout the shopfront from the smashed front doors and the gang managed to grab a cash drawer and two charity tins on their way out.
"They ransacked the back office and smashed two filing cabinets," office manager Linda Woodcock said.
"It's a massive inconvenience and we also had sick dogs in here traumatised by the alarms going off."
The bedlam follows a break-in at the local newsagency overnight on Father's Day and last month's armed robbery at the Moonee Beach Tavern but senior police yesterday weren't able to confirm if they were linked.
"We urge all business owners to be vigilant about their security and their valuables," said Coffs/Clarence acting inspector Tony Milner.
"We would appreciate anyone with information about these incidents to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000."