A break-in in early hours of Monday morning has left a Taree business owner devastated in a retail environment he describes as “tough as nails”.
Some time late Sunday or early Monday, the deadlocked side door of Craig Webster’s business, Computers and Things in Victoria Street was forced open.
Eight notebook computers and two computer screens were stolen.
Adding salt to the wound, Craig said it was the first news he received when he turned on his phone after flying in from Hong Kong on Monday morning – his first holiday in four years.
“This is the worst time I’ve experienced in 24 years in business,” said Craig, adding that last Christmas was his “worst ever”, even compared with his first Christmas as a new business.
“There’s so much competition out there and the internet is killing us, now we can’t even keep stock on the shelves. It’s very disheartening, it gets you down.”
Craig said he had an alarm system in place and the area around his business was well lit so he was surprised there were no witnesses to the crime. Police had attended and taken fingerprints from the scene.
While he was insured, Craig said it would be some time before the claim could be processed and he could re-stock – if that’s what he chooses to do.
“I’ve been preparing for Crazy Day for weeks and now I’ve got nothing here to sell.”
Break-ins had increased in recent years because of the popularity of laptops, Craig believes.
“When we had desktops I guess they were too big to carry. Now with laptops the thieves can grab them and sell them off to someone for $200.”
Despite deciding to carry on after this latest setback Craig said “who knows what mood I’ll be in next time” and said he was dismayed that so many local businesses, including long established ones, were closing.
“When I think of all the people who I’ve employed through traineeships over the years who’ve gone on to bigger and better things as well as the sporting clubs we’ve sponsored... that’ll all be lost if businesses like mine close.”