Operators of a popular Muslim-owned restaurant in Wollongong say they fear a damaging break-in at the business was targeted.
Vandals forced entry to Corrimal Street’s Samaras Restaurant overnight Wednesday and made off with a small amount of cash.
Staff arrived Thursday morning to find the restaurant deliberately flooded and four electronic tablets – used for bookings, orders and administration –submerged in the overflowing kitchen sink.
Cords to the business’s surveillance cameras had been cut and the system’s recording components removed, said owner Omar Nemer.
“We’ve only been broken into twice over the last nine years of operating – once was a drunk person, the other was a 13-year-old kid [at the Woonona branch],” said Mr Nemer, 25.
“This is different. They’ve they’ve taken the whole cash draw and ripped it to pieces.
“Instead of taking the tablets and selling them – which is easy to do – they’ve actually [destroyed] them.
“Did it happen because these people are sending us a message? Did they target us? No one else was hit, that’s what I don’t understand.”
Wollongong Police are investigating the break and enter, which comes after a high-profile three weeks for Mr Nemer, a well-known pro-diversity campaigner.
He engineered the restaurant’s #illeatwithyou campaign in March 2015, when it became the target of anti-Islamic online abuse.
More recently he spoke out over a vandalism attack at the Unanderra barber shop of a friend, Bilal El Mohamad.
He responded to the attack – the first of two, last month – with a visit from the Samaras food truck, and a community #illsupportyou campaign that culminated in the restaurant donating meals to the city’s Homeless Hub.
”The family are a bit upset,” Mr Nemer said. “They think it may all be connected.”
“We’ve only tried to make a positive difference in the community for everything negative that happens. We’re trying to tackle it indirectly, in a way, by saying, ‘we’re all good people, it doesn’t matter if you’re Muslim, Christian, black, white – we all should live in unity and live in peace and try to understand each other’.”
Contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 to assist the police investigation.