AN INDEPENDENT business in Ringwood have said that they have had a “really tough” time after their second break in since the start of the pandemic.

The Original Vape Shop in Monmouth Court had vape machines, vape kits, juices stolen during a burglary which took place at around 2am on Wednesday, February 3.

This comes after a break in during the first lockdown in March and an attempted break in during the second lockdown in November.

Director Karla May said: “This one that happened recently was the third time we have been targeted.

“We are working all the hours God sends us. I have a six-year-old daughter who I am home schooling as well, but I am having to bring her to the shop as we’ve furloughed staff due to the lack of income we are getting.

“Our takings have gone way down; we are only really serving our regulars at the moment. We want to keep going but these break ins have been real setbacks for us.”

Neighbour to the shop, who heard the culprits trying to gain enter to the shop through one of the shop windows, contacted police who on the scene immediately.

Bournemouth Echo: Manager of The Original Vape Shop Donna Oxford, centre, with joint directors Stephanie Baker, left, and Director Karla May

Joint directors Karla May and Stephanie Baker and manager Donna Oxford were notified of the break in by the alarm set off by the intruders.

A 16-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy, both from Southampton, were arrested on on suspicion of burglary on Wednesday, February 3.

Mrs May added: “Our neighbours heard someone trying to get in downstairs. They were trying to smash the glass with a brick and couldn’t so all three of them started kicking at the window.

“We really appreciate our neighbours as they really helped us in calling the police. We have been and got them some vouchers to say thank you.

“We are working with the police to ensure this doesn’t happen again and we are looking to improve our security here, but it is tough because we are not taking much money, so we are going to have to pay for it out of our own pocket.”

The vape shop lost two days of trading following the incident, as forensics were at the store until 5pm on Wednesday, February 3 and ensuring the shop was restocked and the shop’s second boarded-up window was secure.

Bournemouth Echo: The culprits gained entry to The Original Vape Shop through one of the shops windows, left, almost a year after burglars broke into the store through anotehr window, right

Hampshire Constabulary say that the two people arrested in connection with the burglary have been released under investigation and enquiries are ongoing.

“Ringwood used to be such a lovely town and had a very homely feel to it but people outside of it know that there isn’t much of a police presence here,” Karla May added.

“Like Fordingbridge, it does get preyed upon because people think it is a sleeping town.

“It has been a really tough time for independent businesses at the moment. This pandemic is slowly killing the high street and we’re struggling for business at the moment so the last thing that we need is something like this.”