High street break-ins

Smashed open overnight

This Tuesday, 11 January, two of our high street shops, Ethel Loves Me and Craft Magic, were both forced to close unexpectedly. Having coped with unprecedented trading conditions throughout the pandemic the very last thing any shopkeeper would want is to have to close just as footfall is beginning to increase and much needed sales are materialising once more.

Arriving at Ethel Loves Me on Tuesday morning, owners Jason and Jo Dorey discovered to their horror that they had been broken into, and theirs wasn’t the only shop targeted, as further along the high street, Craft Magic had suffered the same fate.

Ethel Loves Me on Rye High Street, targeted by thieves overnight

CCTV footage shows a gang of men walking along the high street trying car doors whilst spraying green paint indiscriminately as they walked along, this was around 12:30am on Tuesday morning and it is believed the same gang may well have been responsible for the two break-ins.

Craft Magic on Rye High Street, broken into in the early hours

When I met Jo and Jason on Tuesday morning they were having to explain to their would-be customers that the shop was temporarily closed whilst the damage to the door was repaired.

A local carpenter begins to repair the damaged front door.

As with Craft Magic the doors had been smashed open, ripping the locks from their frames which a local carpenter was repairing whilst we spoke.

Emptied and abandoned, the till from Ethel Loves Me.

Just inside the front door of Ethel Loves Me is a vintage till, (pictured) this was stolen then found emptied and abandoned in Dogs Hill Road later that morning, Craft Magic also had their takings stolen as well as a laptop and other items of value.

If you think you may have seen or heard anything suspicious then please contact Sussex Police with any information by calling 101 or report online to crimestoppers-uk.org or call 0800 555 111.

Image Credits: Jason Tovey , Nick Forman .


  1. This is an appalling thing to happen. I really do hope that someone heard or saw something that will help the police to find these criminals.

    I wonder who sold them the spray paint?

  2. For many of us older Ryer’s who actually remember a real police force in Rye, and also local people acting as unpaid specials, protecting us and our property whilst we sleep, where has it all gone wrong, as vandals and burglaries take place on our High Street,in the early hours of the morning.I would like to ask a question why have we still got that large police station in cinque ports street, undermanned, underused,and not even open office hours,at considerable expense to the ratepayers, maybe it’s time for answers from those that are supposed to be representing us, and others who are paid to protect us, we the people in Rye need answers, not silence as we have seen,or empty promises, or would they like us to patrol the streets for them.

  3. Makes me very angry! Doors can be so easily forced! One deterrent to such crimes is to install metal shutters. When I had my retail business in Barcelona some 30 years ago, situated in Avenida Gaudi, close to the iconic cathedral, 99% of all the business had them installed in front of their shop windows/doors. A determined thief will get through them, too, but then they have a door to tackle as well and so takes a good deal longer to break in, not to mention the noise. Most ground floor dwellings in Spain also have stout metal bars (‘rejas’), some quite decorative, installed in front of windows.

  4. This is so sad for these businesses. Often I do a late night dog walk around this time, and see other dog walkers, maybe someone saw something. I wish I had. However, what could I have done? We have no police presence at all. Rye, like some many small towns, are ripe for crime due to no police. It was Spring 2021 when I called the police after a burglar was breaking into a Rye property at 1.00am. I gave them a description. The burglar ran off along the train tracks after I shouted at them. The police stated they would attend. They never did. They’ve never followed-up and spoken to me. What hope for any of us in an emergency?

  5. East Grinstead which has a population about three times that of Rye was in a similar situation in recent years with the removal of Police cover, the following is a report of the action that was taken to rectify the situation.
    ’28 MAY 2019
    Following meetings with the Chief Constable and the Local Policing Commander, East Grinstead Town Council are delighted that officers from the prevent team of Mid Sussex Police are once again working out of the Police Hub based at Chequer Mead.

    The changed structure nearly 18 months ago saw all staff working out of Haywards Heath or Crawley stations, but following discussions and wishing to address the public concerns and perception over lack of police presence this has now been reversed to allow staff based in East Grinstead for community engagement to work from East Grinstead.

    2 PCSOs will be based here reporting back to Insp Pete Dommett but visible and engaging with the community once more.

    Chairman of the Public Services Committee Cllr Julie Mockford said “We are really pleased that the Police have listened to our concerns, reflecting the public feedback that the visibility of the Police in the town needed improving. We are hopeful that with the officers working from here the low level lawlessness of ASB, and open cannabis smoking can be addressed”

    When I was stationed at East Grinstead there was a Superintendent, a Chief Inspector, several Inspectors and numerous Sergeants. There were early, late and night shifts of local officers, it was a Traffic Division base and there were several CID officers, all working out of a fairly large modern Police Station. It appears that all the work carried out by those various personnel is now accomplished by two PCSOs working out of a ‘hub’.

    What chance have Rye and the surrounding villages got of having the necessary Police cover?

    • We are sincerely saddened by the news of the recent burglaries & vandalism on Rye High Street. Rye is our 2nd home, where we spent 9 weeks in 3 vacations and made wonderful friends. Craft Magic supplied some of my art requirements.
      Thrill seeking and pointless crimes like these are symptoms of the decline of civil society. Having spent 37 years as a criminal justice professional l know very well the toll such mindless behaviour has on victims.
      We regret the distress suffered by the businesses and the citizens of Rye.
      Victor Clarke, Kingston Ontario Canada.


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