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Peace Warrior owner ‘shocked’ by brazen robbery

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A devastated Maitland business owner is calling for better security to protect local enterprises in the town’s CBD.

Dianne Richardson, who runs Peace Warrior with her autistic son Zane, was left speechless after brazen thieves broke into her High Street premises in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The felons shattered the glass back door, ransacked the place and stole a small sum of money.

A few days later, Ms Richardson is still getting her head around the senseless robbery.

“I’m usually off on Monday, so I went out to lunch with my cousin,” she said.

“However, I called in between 2pm and 2.30pm… saw the door smashed and went into shock.

“They’d been through nearly everything.

“Thankfully, they didn’t go through the stock in the front of the shop because it’s a bit more open [on the main street].

“But, they got the cash drawer – there wasn’t much in it, it wasn’t worth the effort.

“Most of the mess occurred at the back.

“There was glass everywhere from where they smashed the door in, tiny shards all over the place, and clothes strewn around.

“I’m glad my cousin was with me because she stayed alert, telling me to phone the police and our insurance company.

“I was just standing there bewildered, saying ‘oh my god’.

“It took me a while to compose myself.

“I was still in shock that night, I felt very ill and sick in the stomach.”

Unfortunately, this wasn’t an isolated incident, according to Ms Richardson.

“Two were two other businesses nearby that had also been targeted, Coquun and Lavenders Café,” she told the Newcastle Weekly.

“Police are now investigating; hopefully, they catch them… fingers crossed.

“We only opened four months ago, it’s very frustrating.

“You always think the best of people, so this has caught us out.

“I’ve got an appointment with a security firm now, however I’m starting a petition on the weekend.

“I think we need CCTV in The Levee and on the Riverside Walk.

“And, other businesses agree.

“So, I’ll begin canvassing them on Monday.

“I’ve already put a submission into Maitland City Council as well.

“I was stunned there weren’t cameras in the area.

“There’s been so much beautification work around the place recently, it’s strange they don’t have any.

“Cameras can improve security by acting both as a deterrent and as an actual tool to catch those who wish to commit crimes.

“As well, if there’s ever an incident, footage might provide important information to help the local authorities investigate and solve the case.

“Whether you’re walking, jogging or cycling, we should all feel secure when enjoying the beautiful scenery and amenities of our riverwalk.”

Dianne and Zane Richardson.

The main victim in all of this, sadly, is Zane.

Being autistic, he struggled to find paid employment since leaving school.

However, thanks to his passion for art, the pair founded Peace Warrior to print their unique designs onto T-shirts and sweats.

The business name represents Zane, a gentle giant who has a calming effect on everyone he meets.

“It’s affected him really badly,” Ms Richardson said.

“He’s thinking we’re going to get broken into at home or they’ll break-in during the day while we’re here.

“When I come to work, he tells me to be careful, it breaks my heart.

“I’m trying to tell him it’s okay; hopefully, he can calm down a bit.

“It’s distressing for both of us.

“On Tuesday, I just felt like pulling the doona up over my head and staying in bed.

“But, some friends came in and helped clean up, which was great.

“It’s business as usual and we’re trying to cope as best we can.”

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