AROUND 50 bottles of spirit and £1,00 worth of power tools were taken during a burglary of a New Forest pub over the weekend.

Owners of The London Tavern in Poulner had stocked up their cellar during the current lockdown in expectation of a surge of customers before Christmas.

However, as he was due to start making free lunches for key workers on Sunday morning, publican Phil Hoyle noticed that the pub’s cellar door had been smashed off its hinges and the contents or the cellar had been cleared out.

He said: “Over the last couple of months, we have been gearing up for Christmas and New Year.

“A lot of our suppliers have been running deals on spirits and various other products so we have been taking advantage of them and getting two or three bottles when we would usually get one, so we did have a lot of stock in our cellar.

“We have been making sure that when the lockdown finishes, we would be able to welcome back our locals and other customers properly.

“But these people have just come here, smashed their way in without waking us and have stolen everything. It really is upsetting.”

As well as providing free packed lunches for key workers, the pub has also been supplying free school meals as part of the national campaign championed by footballer Marcus Rashford.

The London Tavern set up a fundraising page on April 24, this year to help keep them afloat during the first lockdown.

Thanks to donations from members of the community, the pub has raised over £5,500 which landlord Phil Hoyle says will be spent on replenishing stock and improving security measures at the pub.

Phil Hoyle added: “Sainsbury’s said that they had an attempted robbery on the same night and another pub in the village, The Railway Pub & Kitchen, said that someone had attempted to get into their store room the same evening as well. The police actually came here for The Railway on Saturday morning.

“On top of the others stresses about when we can reopen and just generally surviving this lockdown, we now need to replenish our stock so that we are in a position to open as early as we can.

“I do not understand how they think it is OK to do this, especially now when everyone is struggling because of the pandemic. We are just trying to survive and help our local community during this difficult time.

“To then be preyed upon when you are at your most vulnerable makes you question a lot of things, but we are determined to stay strong and bounce back from this.”

Hampshire Constabulary have said that they incident took place between 9.20pm on Saturday night and 7.50am on Sunday morning, and are appealing for information regarding the burglary.

A police spokesman said: “Officers were called to The London Tavern in Poulner on Sunday morning following a burglary during the evening on Saturday November 7.

“The incident happened sometime between 9.20pm on Saturday November 7 and 7.50am Sunday November 8.

“Around 50 bottles of spirits are thought be have been taken after someone broke in overnight to the cellar, smashing the door in.

“We are investigating, and we'd like to hear from anyone with any information about the crime or who is offered a bottle of cheap spirits in the local area.

“Please call us on 101 quoting the RMS number 44200433028.”