AN AMERICAN-style diner near Kingsclere was targeted by thieves last night.

It is thought thieves gained entry to Nelsons Diner, in Newbury Road, at about midnight last night, by damaging a door to the side of the building.

Once inside, they stole two safes and office equipment, and trashed the diner’s kitchen area. An early estimate of the damage is around £30,000.

Jess Firth, PA to the diner’s owners Simon and Shelly Francis, said the diner was empty at the time, having closed at 9pm that evening. An alarm system alerted Mr Francis and the police to the break-in.

She added: “One of the safes is very big and heavy so we think they would have had to attach it to a car and drag it out of the building.

“The owners are very shocked that someone would do this to a small family business.”

Red paint chippings found around the damaged back door of the diner has led staff to believe that a red vehicle was involved in the raid.

Officers were at the scene last night and this morning. The owners plan to reopen the restaurant this weekend.

PC Richard Cousins said: “The activity around the diner during this incident would have caused quite a lot of noise and may have attracted some attention.”

Anyone with information can contact Basingstoke CID on 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.