THIEVES are stealing alcohol and cash from pubs and restaurants closed by the coronovirus lockdown.

Police and security companies have urged business owners to reinforce their security after a series of incidents around the country

The lockdown, following the Prime Minister's announcement on Friday, came suddenly, leaving many pubs and restaurants inadequately secured and leaving them at risk from break-ins and theft during the crisis.

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Security expert Jonathan Ratcliffe said: "Many pubs and restaurants closed quickly on Friday. The combination of a very stressful situation and financial worries, security might have been overlooked.

“Because all premises are closed and empty, it’s easy pickings for those looking to profit from this time of hardship. Our advice is clear – reinforce all security measures before you are targeted."

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He issued the following advice to landlords and owners:

• Reinforce hard deterrents such as considering boarding up back doors, cellar entrances and weak points

• All alcohol should be taken out of view, perhaps into the cellar or off site

• Remove all charity cash boxes

• Leave tills empty and open

• Check alarms and CCTV are working

• Draw curtains and secure inner doors

• Add signage to windows to say you have removed all alcohol, food and cash from the premises

Mr Ratcliffe, whose company, provides security to business premises, said: “It’s terrible we are having to issue this advice, but we are sadly seeing pilfering already across the country.

"We aren’t seeing shortage too badly yet, but I’m personally worried that if we do premises will be targeted for food and alcohol – so the time is now to go into lockdown mode."