Two businesswomen who have spent six months preparing to launch their new salon, have been left devastated after their shop was rammed by truck.
Danielle Thompson, 25, and Jessica McGurk, 27, were ready to welcome customers for the first time tomorrow to Laila, a hair and beauty salon in Whiteleas Way, South Shields.
But the pair have been left heartbroken after the work they have put in to update the former Eklips shop lie in tatters after a suspected stolen flatbed van was ploughed into the front of the property in the early hours of today.
It was later found on fire nearby, with Northumbria Police investigating the attack while classing the blaze as a suspected arson.
Both women have invested £3,000 into work on the rented unit - with the new flooring, door and brickwork smashed by the impact of the collision.
While sure it is not a personal attack, they fear it could be the work of someone who is envious of their success as hair extentionist Jessica, from East Boldon, and hairdresser Danielle, from Whiteleas, get ready to trade from the council-rented shop.
We were really happy about opening the shop but this is miserable and we’re really deflated.Jessica McGurk
Jessica said: “We signed the lease in February and since then the whole property has been gutted. It’s been a constant effort. The whole building has been ripped out replastered, rewired. repainted and all new stuff put in.
“At 1.30am one of our neighbours called the police reporting they had heard a huge crash and the police went around to Danielle’s and knocked her out of bed. The front of the shop has been destroyed.
“A stolen van had been driven through the bollards and directly into the shop front.
“Then it’s been driven to Manet Gardens, next to where Temple Park Juniors was, and set on fire. The council was called out to make sure the shop was safe.”
She added: “We just couldn’t believe it. We’ve been posting updates on social media and we’d said when we were going to open.
“We don’t think it’s a personal attack, we think it’s someone jealous of the business.
“We council are trying to help as best they can, but this is a huge set back and we are really upset.
“We’re still going to open, but it’ll probably be a couple of weeks now.”
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service confirmed it was called to Manet Gardens on the estate at around 2am, with a crew from South Shields Fire Station using two hose reels to put out the blaze.
A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: “At around 12:53am this morning, police received a report of a disturbance on Whiteleas Way, South Shields.
“A suspected stolen van was driven into the front of a shop, causing extensive damage to the premises.
“It then made off from the scene.
“Nobody was injured.
“Officers later found the vehicle in question on fire on Manet Gardens. Police are treating the incident as suspected arson and attempts are ongoing to trace those involved.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 quoting reference 053 140818 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.