A BUSINESS owner is warning other traders to double-check their security measures following a 'mini spate' of break-ins in an area of town.

In the early hours of Monday morning, November 25, Robert Suhadolnik received a call from police to say there had been an incident at his business, Haughton Chippy on Haughton Green, Darlington.

It is believed an intruder used a large stone to smash the window and break into the shop's till.

The Northern Echo:

Although Mr Suhadolnik had taken steps to remove his valuables, such as money from the till, out of his shop the owner said the incident had still cost him repairs for his window and hours in trade.

He said: "It’s a little bit of a frustrating start to a Monday morning.

"I had been awake since three sorting out the window and dealing with it all.

"There was no money in there, but that’s the frustrating part for us because then we had to pay for someone to replace the window."

Over the space of one weekend, three businesses in the Haughton-le-Skerne reported break-ins to Darlington Police less than one mile away from each other.

The other two businesses affected were family business Todds Butchers on Haughton Green and Nightingale Off Licence, on Nightingale Avenue.

Mike Todd, who owns the butchers, said the break-in resulted in damage to the front door which was as old as the business itself.

He said: "The break-in caused a lot of damage. They smashed the front door to bits which was nearly 118 years old, as old as Todds Butchers is.

"They have violated our premises and smashed a bit of history.

"We don't want to make a big issue of what happened but people need to stay switched on and think twice about their security."

Mr Suhadolnik added his warning to other business-owners in the town.

The Northern Echo:

He said: "“My advice is just to be vigilant. Have as much security as possible, whether that is CCTV and shutters or taking everything out of the shop at the end of the day. Make sure everything is strapped down."

The chip shop owner added he was worried the aftermath of the break-in had overshadowed his call for people to rally together in aid of the Salvation Army's annual Christmas toy appeal.

He said: "The most frustrating bit is that Sunday afternoon we launched an appeal with the Salvation Army and shared a wishlist for toys people can buy for a child in need to help its appeal.

"We’re trying to get as many of our friends and customers to get involved to make a difference to children in this town.

“It’s funny that one day you do something quite charitable and something to help others, but the next day you get your shop window put through."

All three businesses reported the incidents to police who are now investigating the break-ins.

The force are now appealing to the public for any information involving what happened.

A spokesperson from Durham Police said: "Police are investigating a spate of burglaries in the Haughton area of Darlington.

"At 6.30am on November 23, officers were called to a break-in at Todds Butchers, in Haughton Green, which had happened overnight.

"Two further burglaries were reported in the early hours of November 25 at Haughton Chippy and Nightingale Off Licence, on Nightingale Avenue.

"We would like to speak to anyone who saw anything suspicious in the Haughton area on the nights these burglaries took place.

“If anyone has any information that could help our enquiries they should call us on 101.”