A popular Indian restaurant, with branches in both Barnard Castle and Darlington, was broken into and ransacked this week, causing thousands of pounds in damage. 

Babul's Barnard Castle, located in the town's Market Place, was broken into in the early hours of Wednesday (May 8). 

Four individuals broke in through the back door after scoping out the restaurant earlier in the night. They quickly made their way upstairs to the cocktail bar, stealing all of the bottles of alcohol. The property was extensively damaged. 

Later that day, smashed spirit and wine bottles were found strewn across Barnard Castle. 

The Northern Echo: The door at Babul's was smashed in during the break in. The door at Babul's was smashed in during the break in. (Image: Babul's)

Zak Ahmed, one of the owners of the independent restaurant, has said how "fed up" he is with the repeated break-ins, and has appealed to anyone who knows what happened to contact the police. 

Babul's Darlington branch was broken into only in February, and the Barnard Castle branch had been smashed up around a year before that. 

The police have already questioned and arrested several suspects. 

Zak said: "It's not just about replacing lost stock, and fixing the door - you've also got to look at loss of sales - and for this, our loss of sales will be over £10,000. That's alongside replacing the door, which will cost about £2,000, and any new security measures we take."

In February, the Darlington break-in set to the company back even more, having to fork out £20,000 for repairs and restocking. 

Zak said it's "really disheartening" for the independent business to be broken into repeatedly.

"There was so much damage, it was just completely unnecessary. It's really dispiriting and we're a bit fed up. What are we supposed to do? We have burglar alarms and CCTV, but they don't seem to deter anyone, and it would be unfeasible to lock up all of our alcohol every night."

Babul's is rooted in community, having fed the hungry through the Covid-19 pandemic, and having thrown open doors for the vulnerable at Christmas time. 

But Zak admits that the break-ins have "left a sour taste in my mouth", the stress of which has drawn him away from his family. 

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He said: "For example, I like to take my boy swimming on a Monday, but because of one of the break-ins, I wasn't able to do that - this is taking me away from my family.

"I think people see us as successful, they see plenty of people come through the door and we do a good job of marketing ourselves, but we're still an independent business at the end of the day. We're just two brothers trying to make a living and look after our staff - and all of these costs eat into this a lot.

"We work hard to do everything right, and then people like this come along.