The dismayed boss of a former Wigan restaurant has told how the whole project has been blighted by thefts and vandalism from the moment it opened to long after it closed.
Joe Farley says that the once-popular Shanghai Palace has been hit by no fewer than 23 break-ins since it launched as a Chinese eatery seven years ago, has been plundered for more than £30,000 of property and suffered £100,000 in criminal damage.
The Poolstock venue shut last year and was sold on, with the new owner hoping that planning permission can be granted for it to be razed and replaced with homes. In the meantime though, the troubles have continued.
Last month Mr Farley discovered that travellers had moved onto its car park and horses were grazing on the council-owned bowling greens.
He called council planning officers down to the site and one of them took pictures as a flat bed truck drove off with several of the Chinese dragon and lion statues from inside the premises on its back.
The theft is now being investigated by police.
Mr Farley said: “The whole project has been a nightmare from the beginning and it’s not over now. The restaurant didn’t work, as it turns out. But things weren’t helped by the trouble that constantly plagued us.
“On one occasion someone ripped out the whole air conditioning system which cost £18,000 to replace. And there have been loads of other times when intruders have managed to bypass the alarm system to steal all sorts of fixtures and fittings.
“One guy who tried to steal Chinese vases gashed himself smashing one of the windows and was traced through his DNA and sent to jail.
“It’s come to the point now where we can’t make insurance claims. The latest incident was witnessed by council officers as the thieves drove away with statues on the back of a lorry. I despair.”
Anyone with details of the statue thefts - on Wednesday April 26, should ring police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.