A COFFEE shop owner has been “knocked back” after a burglar smashed their way into his shop before making off with cash from the till.

A crook broke into Jaco’s Cup of Coffee in Rosemary Road, Clacton, on Friday at 4.15am.

The suspect caused damage to a window and broke the bars off the window frame, as well as breaking two door frames.

He was then caught on CCTV dipping into the till to take the petty cash.

Owner Scott Neilson said it has come as a blow for his business, which has spent much of the year closed due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

“How many challenges do we need?” said the frustrated owner.

“I was absolutely gutted to walk in on Friday morning to have been robbed by this idiot.

“It’s just frustrating because of the damage caused.

“I think he was looking for a safe as he pulled the metal grills at the bottom of one of our fridges.

“It just puts another stumbling block in front of us as we try to build back our shop.

“The most important thing is no-one was hurt.

“The hospitality industry has been hit badly with the pandemic, with the last four months being the toughest.

“We’ve improved our offer during the last lockdown with new outside seating and environment, also offering free meals for children .

“This has just knocked us back a bit, but we will fight on.

“We will be back open as usual doing our best for our customers and hope to put it behind us.

“I’ve had the forensic team in the shop but I don’t think they will catch him.

“The guy wore a face mask, gloves and a hoodie.”

Mr Neilson said the raid on his shop comes after a number of other break-ins at cafés in the town centre in recent months.

He took over the long-running cafe in 2018 and has recently refurbished the establishment.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “We are investigating following reports of a burglary at Cup of Coffee.

“The offence is believed to have occurred overnight between Thursday and Friday.

“An unknown amount of cash was taken from the till.

Anyone with information is asked to call 101 and quote the crime reference number 42/80007/21.