A business owner has been left shocked after his café was ransacked in the early hours of the morning.

Burglars struck at the Palm House near the swannery in Weymouth on Monday.

The business is a café bistro which is popular with families as it has a children’s play area.

Nigel Sims-Duff arrived to open the business on Tuesday morning and found it had been broken into.

According to Mr Sims-Duff, the thieves entered via the play area opposite Swannery Court, gaining entry by smashing the glass panes in the door.

A number of items were stolen including cash, tips, alcohol worth around £250 to £300, and a radio.

He said: “It was a bit of a shock, it’s upsetting because we are a small family business, we work hard to make a living and provide a service for the local community. It’s not like we are a chain of shop. £300 to £400 takes a while for us to get back. We feel a bit disheartened and vulnerable. It’s a shame because we have a good thing going here. For a small café we are quite prosperous.”

Mr Sims-Duff said he has been amazed by the response from his customers and the local community.

He explained: “They have been fantastic and so sympathetic. On Facebook there have been likes and comments from people expressing their sympathies. The response from the community and customers has been very uplifting; it restores your faith in humanity and community spirit. The police were also excellent.”

Mr Sims-Duff says this isn’t the first time The Palm House has been burgled and he has been forced to ‘tighten up’ on security after the most recent incident.

He explained: “This is the second time in two years we have been targeted. We were targeted last year, they stole food and drink from our shed. We’re tightening up our security and are installing CCTV and new alarms.”

Dorset Police are investigating the burglary.

A spokesman said: “We received reports of a commercial burglary at the Palm House Café overnight sometime between Monday, October 8 and Tuesday, October 9.

“An unknown offender/offenders entered the premises and a sweet dispenser machine was stolen with its contents and cash inside, and some alcohol was also taken. “Officers are investigating the incident and are conducting CCTV and house to house enquiries to assist the investigation.”

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Dorset Police at www.dorset.police.uk, via email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk or by calling 101 quoting the incident number 55180163536.