Woopi ram raid thwarted

A GANG of thieves used a stolen four-wheel-drive to ram raid a Woolgoolga shopping centre early yesterday but despite their efforts they fled empty handed.

The culprit behind the wheel reversed through the glass and aluminium bi-fold doors of the Woolgoolga Shopping Plaza in a red Ford utility at 3.55am.

His two accomplices ran inside the arcade and used sledge hammers and iron bars to break into the IGA supermarket. Unable to pull newly installed cigarette cabinets from the wall, they sped off leaving an estimated damage bill of $10,000 in their wake.

Woolgoolga police yesterday found the stolen vehicle in Market St. Investigators are now trying to identity the culprits, who appear to be Caucasian.

Plaza management have also provided police with closed circuit security vision of the crime.

Forensic police are analysing the getaway vehicle and a 4WD snatch strap found in a back yard for fingerprints and evidence.

The offenders had their faces covered and wore hoodies and gloves.

Woolgoolga Plaza owner Bob Watson said the daring, but unsuccessful heist was a major blow to the plaza, local business and Woolgoolga’s reputation.

“They caused a substantial amount of damage, got nothing and left an enormous mess. Woolgoolga in my opinion has lost some of its innocence after this crime,” Mr Watson said.

“It was a reverse entry, through the plaza doors fronting Nightingale St. The utility was fitted with a long tow bar, which destroyed the doors upon impact. Totally ripped them out.

“The vehicle was driven through the plaza and parked near the seating area. Two other men have then run inside and attacked the IGA doors with iron bars and sledge hammers.

“A large amount of damage was caused to the metal cabinets, but already they have paid for themself, stopping the theft of a substantial amount of tobacco.

“The alarm inside IGA was activated and as the security footage shows they were in and out within three minutes.”

Anyone with information that may help should contact Coffs Clarence detectives via Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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