Burglars target two Northumberland pubs in one night

Two rural Northumberland pubs within two miles of each other were targeted by burglars who made off with thousands of pounds during Friday (May 7) night.
The Newcastle House in Rothbury. Picture by Jane ColtmanThe Newcastle House in Rothbury. Picture by Jane Coltman
The Newcastle House in Rothbury. Picture by Jane Coltman

The break-ins at Newcastle House, Rothbury, and the Three Wheat Heads just up the road at Thropton were discovered early on Saturday morning.

Thieves had made off with a safe containing around £4,000 from Newcastle House and till cash and staff tips totalling £150 from the Thropton pub.

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Gail Hooper, landlady of the Three Wheat Heads, described the burglars as “scumbags”.

The Three Wheat Heads Inn at Thropton.The Three Wheat Heads Inn at Thropton.
The Three Wheat Heads Inn at Thropton.

The devastating raids have happened at a time when both venues are struggling to get back on their feet after a year of disruption caused by the pandemic.

Rothbury county councillor Steven Bridgett, who held his seat at Thursday’s election, said: “I am absolutely gutted to hear that this has happened to two local businesses that have been struggling as a result of Covid-19 and for them to be targeted in this way, making the last 14 months an even costlier exercise for them.”

The thieves had gained access to Newcastle House through the cellar doors. CCTV images show two men entering the bar area and making off with the safe.

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Owner Chris Grieves said: "It is so frustrating after the year we’ve had. It’s costing twice as much to operate because of Covid restrictions and the first couple of weeks’ takings have disappeared because some random person has decided to steal it. It’s not on.”

Staff left Newcastle House at around 10.30 on Friday night and Chris was called at about 8.45am on Saturday to tell him the cellar door hatch was wide open.

“They’ve come in, taken a small safe that contained about £4,000. They haven’t done any damage, just forced the cellar hatch, come straight in, lifted the safe and gone. They haven’t taken any drink and they didn’t get any further into the building because everything is secure internally.

“Northumbria Police officers have been here today, so they are taking it seriously.”

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The Three Wheat Heads was all locked up by 7.30pm on Friday. Landlord George Yule and his partner Gail live upstairs but they didn’t hear a thing.

Gail said: “They have jemmied open the big patio doors at the back. They’ve wrecked the doors and the frame. It’ll probably cost £3,000 to £4,000 to replace.

"Hopefully, the insurance will pay for that. But if we have to fork out the money for those, that’ll be the killer.

"They knew what they were doing because they went in and straight to the tills. Luckily enough, I took out the takings from that day and just left a float and the staff tips on the side. They’ve taken the notes and the tips.

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“They’ve not taken a lot to be honest because we don’t do a load of cash nowadays and we haven’t been that busy because we’re operating in the beer garden but the weather has been absolutely atrocious.

“I’m more annoyed that they’ve taken the staff tips. Hopefully, this might make people a bit more wary now.”

Cllr Bridgett added: “Please continue to support the pubs in any way you can – they need it now more than ever.”

Northumbria Police have confirmed that enquiries are ongoing into each incident.