The heartbroken owner of a popular Hucknall bingo hall says he may be forced out of business after raiders struck for the second time.
Tharmalingam Sritharan, who has run the Byron Bingo on the High Street for 13 years, was hit by thieves last Friday after a previous break in last year left him “near enough bankrupt”.
“Professional” thieves disabled the alarm system before ransacking the former cinema, taking “every penny” and damaging fruit machines which cost £30 - £40,000 to replace, on October 19.
“I lost everything, including £10,000 in cash,” he told the Dispatch, this week.”Unfortunately the insurance refused to pay me. I am near enough bankrupt.
“I am trying to keep it going because the people really love bingo.”
He said the police were unable to trace the culprits as CCTV cameras had been switched off while the road works were in progress.
He said: “I am really thinking, it is really worth it to be here?
“It is not just the money I have lost - now I have to share machines with someone else, so I am sharing profits.”
The second blow came last week, at around 10.30pm on Friday, March 24, when thieves climbed over a locked gate and on to a flat roof before smashing their way though a ladies toilet on the first floor.
“They came downstairs, and tried to break into the fruit machines and damaged one machine,” said Mr Sritharan.
“I think the alarm must have gone off because the police within two or three minutes.”
Unable to retrace their steps, because the ladies toilet faces the road, the thieves fled in the other direction, over the walls of neighbouring gardens.
“We have had to get everything boarded up to make the place secure,” said Mr Sritharan. “Luckily they didn’t take any money.
“I am trying to get it going but then this happens.”
He described the first gang of thieves as “professionals” who “knew what they were doing”, while the latest break-in was the work of amateurs.
Mr Sritharan, 57, who lives in Beeston, bought the cinema building in 2004, having started out in the bingo business in 1978, in Croyden, where his family live.
“Bingo is part of my life. I enjoy it! But things like this make me think. My mother and my family live in London, and they worry about me. They say “What if someone came in with a gun - it’s dangerous.”
“It is sad. Even though all the customers sympathise. People can’t do much.”
He described the upset amongst customers when he warned them he may close.
“Most of the people were in tears. Someone said “It will kill us.” It really made me sad, but what can I do?”
If anyone has information about last Friday night’s break-in, please call police on 101, quoting incident 33 of March 24.