Christmas takings all but wiped out for Bedford fishmonger thanks to attempted van theft

GCH Fishmongers
GCH Fishmongers

A family-run Bedford fishmongers has had their Christmas business takings all but wiped out thanks to thieves who tried to steal their van over the festive break.

Gary Hooper of GCH Fishmongers on Newnham Street says that while the thieves weren’t able to actually steal the van on the night of 27 December 2023, the damage they caused means it is now likely to be a ‘write off’.

“The van cost us £30k, which we bought outright during lockdown,” Gary told us, “now, due to the mileage and age we will probably only get less than a third back.”

The GCH Fishmongers’ van was used to provide a home delivery service for people who couldn’t get out during lockdown, and has continued to be used by the shop to serve customers in and around Bedford.

The van was parked on The Grove when George Hooper, Gary’s son, who he runs the shop with, spotted people inside.

“He [George] was as putting his bin out at approximately 11:45pm to see three individuals wearing balaclavas over their faces, inside one of our vans,” says Gary.

“He shouted to them asking what they were playing at, they jumped out of the van running down the road toward the Three Cups.

“They had cut a hole in the front bumper to disable the alarm, smashed both windows on the drivers door and ripped out half the dashboard trying to start the van prior to being discovered.

“They had also ripped out the tracker we had fitted. Due to the damage it looks like it is going to be written off.”

The GCH Fishmongers van that the owners say will be a 'write off' after thieves attempted to steal it on 27 December 2023. Image: GCH Fishmongers
The GCH Fishmongers van that the owners say will be a ‘write off’ after thieves attempted to steal it on 27 December 2023. Image: GCH Fishmongers

Christmas business

Gary says that they had a “great Christmas trading period” and they had hoped to reinvest profits into improving their online shop and also looking at pricing.

“None of this will be possible now,” says Gary.

“Whatever we get back [from insurance] will have to be used as a down payment on a new van and we will be saddled with lease payments each month, which is a cost we did not have before.

“This is going to be difficult for us with spiralling costs like electricity which has seen our bills multiply by five times in the last year.”

But Gary does say they won’t let this set back get the better of them.

“We have still decided to invest in promotional activity during January to help our customers out during the current cost of living crisis, this will be through our online shop.”

Anyone who may have seen anything on The Grove, Bedford around 11:45pm, or who has doorbell camera or CCTV footage is asked to contact Bedfordshire Police.

Bedfordshire Police say, “We were called at around 11.45pm on Wednesday, 27 December 2023 to a report of three men in balaclavas attempting to break into a white Peugeot Boxer van in The Grove, Bedford.

“The front drivers side window was smashed, and the steering column was damaged.

“Lines of enquiry have been carried out and anyone with information can contact us on 101 or via our online reporting tool quoting reference 40/69978/23.”