THE co-owner of a grocery estimates £5,000 in cigarettes and cash was stolen from his store during a burglary.

In a cruel twist of fate, Raees Khan only took over Cowley Grocery & Meat with his business partner last month.

Since then, the pair had been working hard to upgrade the Cowley Road business, however a burglary earlier this week has been a major setback to those plans.

Mr Khan said he knew something was wrong the moment he arrived for work on Tuesday.

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“I came into the shop at nine in the morning, and when I came in, the door was already open and I saw things weren’t right,” he said.

“I turned on the lights and saw everything was messed up.

“It was a real shock, our shutter was broke last week and in the meantime, we had put a lock on it.

“I then looked at the CCTV, which shows the person was here for between 10 and 15 minutes.

CCTV released by Cowley Grocery & Meat

CCTV released by Cowley Grocery & Meat

“A forensic team came in to find fingerprints, so hopefully when they check the database, the police can use that to track them down.

“We think about £5,000 worth of cigarettes and cash was taken.

“We were angry and upset because we paid a lot of money for the business, and whatever we make gets reinvested.

“It’ll take a while to recover obviously, it’s a very unfortunate incident.”

During the burglary, the entire contents of the shop till was taken, with Mr Khan estimating up to 300 packets of cigarettes were also stolen.

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CCTV footage sent to the Oxford Mail shows a hooded figure patrolling the perimeter of the shop, trying door handles.

Once inside, they attempt to open the till using a key, before forcibly removing it from the shop counter.

Mr Khan and his business partner only took control of the store on January 5, and had already started making changes to upgrade the premises, including the shop’s signage.

“We only bought the business last month so we’d gone to Bookers and stocked up on cigarettes and other products – we had no idea anything like this would happen,”said Mr Khan.

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“We made a lot of changes to the shop to make it more presentable, and replaced all the boards.

“On Tuesday, there was the forensic team here, but we have reopened now.

“We told people we were closed for a few hours and they’ve been very supportive.

“The community here is full of really nice people who want to help us.”

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A spokesperson for Thames Valley Police confirmed the force was investigating the burglary, but no arrests had been made and the investigation is continuing.

The burglary occurred at some stage overnight between February 22 and 23.

Anyone with any information on the burglary should call 101, quoting the incident reference number 426 of 23 February.

Witnesses can also make a report online, using the same reference number, or call the independent charity Crimestoppers 100 per cent anonymously on 0800 555 111.