Carmen's Restaurant Tamworth broken into using stolen Nissan X-Trail

POLICE are hunting five hooded offenders who forced their way into a local restaurant as the owner counts the costly damage bill.

Carmen O’Sullivan was woken when the alarm to her Italian restaurant, off the New England Highway at Kingswood, sounded shortly before 3am on Monday.

Little did she know it was at that minute, the gang, in a stolen car, had jumped out of the car and jemmied open the door to steal what they could inside.

“They ransacked my back office, they ransacked my front office, stole the staff’s tips, they damaged out the front door and they damaged our office door,” Carmen O’Sullivan told The Leader.

“And it only took them three minutes.”

Ms O’Sullivan said she got out of bed, called security and walked towards the restaurant when she spotted the car before police were alerted immediately.

“They saw me coming and they took off,” she said.

“They blew the motor up on the front door trying to get in, so the damage bill is probably going to cost about $1600.”

All five offenders were dressed in hooded jumpers covering their faces and gloves, but forensic police scoured the restaurant on Monday in a bid to identify those behind the break-in.

The offenders only managed to make off with the float and loose change. It’s the second time the restaurant has been hit this year.

"It’s very frustrating,” Ms O’Sullivan said.

“It’s very intrusive, we’ve put a lot of hard work into our business and to have these guys come through and ransack everything, they’ve done more damage than anything else.

“It’s a burden with insurance … we had an alarm, the doors were locked, we’ve got CCTV.”

The red Nissan X-Trail – bearing number plates CIW-93M – was stolen during a break-and-enter at a house in Amaroo Rd at Hillvue on October 31.

Thieves stole the X-Trail along with a blue Ford Kuga which was found dumped after.

Police said they were probing any possible links to an attempted break-and-enter in the early hours of Monday morning at an Armidale Rd motel.

The red X-Trail was also spotted by a resident off Fossickers Way at Attunga about 3.30am. Police said the woman woke to find offenders targeting her vehicle.

They made off with loose change and fled in the stolen car.

Anyone with information on the thefts or who might have spotted the stolen X-Trail is being urged to contact Tamworth police on 6768 2999.