A THIEF broke into a popular Weymouth harbourside restaurant and fled with the till drawer - after opening a bottle of wine from the venue's stock and swigging from it.

Quayside Bar and Kitchen was targeted during its last days of trading before it closes for the entire winter period.

Bosses said their CCTV cameras had captured the burglar breaking into the restaurant and trying to open the till using a screwdriver. When he realised he was unable to open it, he ripped out the till drawer leaving exposed wires on the counter. He also broke into the Quayside Cafe next door but did not steal anything.

The burglary took place in the early hours of Thursday, September 24.

Manager Roger Allen said: "The owner came down in the morning and noticed there was no till drawer so he went to look at the CCTV and called the police. We couldn't open the restaurant during the day while the police investigated and we tidied up so we lost a day of trading."

The restaurant was later reopened for evening service but, due to the lack of till, staff could only take card payments.

Mr Allen said: "We did not get a replacement till until Saturday so we could only take card payments for three days.

"It was very shocking when we came in and saw we had been burgled and frustrating that we couldn't open but our staff have been great and have not been put off coming to work.

"Looking on the bright side, it could have happened during our busiest time in summer which would have had a terrible impact so it could have been worse."

The theft has taken place less than two weeks before the restaurant closes its doors for six months while it begins restoration work on its doors, windows and toilets. The final day of trading will be Saturday, October 3 and owners plan to reopen in March 2021.

Roger said: "The refurbishment will increase our security as we will have new doors and windows so hopefully that will make everyone feel a bit safer."

Dorset Police have advised an investigation into the incident is under way but no arrests have been made.