Auckland cafe burglary: Couple with newborn baby in tears after Mt Albert store targeted

A hard-working couple with a newborn baby are distraught after heartless thieves smashed their way into their Mt Albert cafe and burgled it.

Jeevani Thusitha, who gave birth less than a fortnight ago, screamed when she opened the door to her Mt Albert restaurant and cafe on Monday morning.

Her husband, who was at their home next door, came running.

Their business, Rockys Restaurant and Cafe in Mt Albert, had been burgled – with the heartless act hitting even harder due to its owners not being insured.

Jeevani’s husband Rocky Warnakulasuriya said security camera footage showed the cafe was burgled twice during the night.

Thousands of dollars worth of items were taken, including a laptop and two iPads worth $2500, a haul of liquor worth $1500, and $500 worth of cash from the till and tip jar.

The business will also need repairs after the front door and lock were smashed.

It’s a devastating blow for the hospitality business, which was already struggling to cover additional costs, including insurance.

“When someone talks to us, we get tears into our eyes, that’s been happening. Even when we tell the story, we get quite emotional,” Warnakulasuriya said.

His wife discovered the burglary at 6am on Monday morning as she began her baking shift.

He heard her scream and ran to the cafe and discovered the damage.

“We cried,” he said.

“The till was pulled out, there were some coins on the ground.”

Scared the people who took the laptop could access his internet banking, he transferred his money to a friend.

The burglary couldn’t have come at a worse time for the family of four.

The hospitality business survived Covid-19 and two lockdowns, they’d just welcomed a new baby and their rental home had been undergoing repairs, forcing the family onto one floor of their home.

“It’s full of trouble on these days,” he said.

He said he and his wife work “all the time” to build up their small business.

“It’s not easy for small people like us to compete with the big businesses, especially in Auckland. But with our hard work and quality of the work and the food, we manage to keep going,” he said.

He said regular, local customers are the reason the business survived Covid-19.

“I rely on the locals, regulars have been helping me through the lockdown.

“The locals keep a close eye on me. They’ve been helpful. They’ve been ordering lots of takeaways [during] the lockdowns.”

Regular customers of the cafe set up a Givealittle page for the business, and it has been flooded by more than 230 donors that have raised over $1200 for the business.

The page describes the couple as “wonderful owners”who have been going through an “extremely tough time.”

And it’s because of his locals that Warnakulasuriya is determined to come back strong.

“I need come back strongly and do this for the community. They’ve been helpful.

“I just want to say thank you to the community. No matter what happens, I have good customers. We are lucky to have a good community.”

A police spokeswoman said police received a report on Monday morning of a burglary at the cafe.

“Police have attended and conducted an initial forensic examination. Further inquiries to be made.”

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