A FAMILY business has lost thousands in stock and cash after a spate of break ins.

The Taylor family, who own Dino's Cafe Palmeira Avenue, Westcliff are now afraid to open up for business after thieves broke into the property twice last week.

Between two break ins on Wednesday September 5 and Friday September 7, the group stole 15 bottles of wine, cleared the building of any cash and food in its fridges and freezers.

Steve Taylor, 70, from Thorpe Bay, who owns the business with his wife, Paula, said: "All the cash was stolen in the first break in and then they thought they could get a little bit more.

"The first time they forced the doors open and completely ransacked the place.

"They stole crates of red, white and rose wine and they must have piled it all into a van.

"The next day, my son Richard arrived and felt we have been violated by these people.

"It has been very upsetting, we are just normal people running a family business, not multi-millionaires, something like this can cause real damage to a business."

Mr Taylor, a former police officer of 23 years, said the family put heavy duty bolts on the doors the day after the break in to try and stop more break ins from happening.

The following night, the thieves returned.

He said: "They broke our alarm system so it did not even go off.

"They came fully equipped to get in with bolt cutters to open the doors.

"They took all the food out of our fridges, filled up a couple of our bins and dragged it out of the cafe."

The family business has been open since 1989.

Mr and Mrs Taylor's son, Richard and their grandson work in the kitchen at the cafe.

Steve said: "We have had a couple break ins over the years, maybe three or four, but we have not had anything like this happen before.

"We are one of the longest running businesses in this area, it has always been nice around here but somewhere a nasty little part of the area has come into Westcliff, it's incredibly upsetting."

A spokesman for Essex Police confirmed that enquiries are ongoing into the two thefts at Dino's Cafe.

If you have any information that can help police with their investigation, please call 101 quoting crime reference 42/129989/18 or report any information to the charity Crimestoppers 100 per cent anonymously at crimestoppers- uk.org