The owner of a well-known Wetherby restaurant has pleaded with the public after cash takings were burgled 'from the hands' of staff members this morning.
Catherine Spence-Buono has urged the 'safe and small' community of Wetherby to be on-guard after 'a substantial amount of money' was taken from Sant' Angelo at around 9.30am today (Mon March 14).
Co-owner, Mrs Spence-Buono has released CCTV images of the burglar who she said walked into the restaurant and then waited for office staff to open the cash safe before making his move.
She said: "It's very distressing, we have got it all on CCTV. He came in when the cleaners were here before the office staff had arrived. He had a good look around assessing the place then he hid and waited.
Shortly after, the office staff arrived to empty the safe of the restaurant's cash takings.
Mrs Spence-Buono said: "He stood looking through the crack in the door and when the money has been removed he's come and taken the money from them.
"They are obviously in shock but they weren't threatened, there was no gun or anything it wasn't an armed robbery."
Catherine explained that the cleaners come from an external agency and so wouldn't have suspected anything while the burglar walked around the restaurant.
She also said that the perpetrator had initially pretended that he was a new employee to office staff in order to create a distraction before grabbing the cash.
She said: "He pretended he was starting work here today to create a bit of a distraction and then just took the money out of their hands, they couldn't do anything about it.
Mrs Spence-Buono said that CCTV from a number of other local businesses had shown the burglar leave the restaurant with the cash, turn left and go up Victoria Street and by the fire station.
She said: "Somebody must have seen him, if anyone has any information, saw where he went or saw him loitering about outside the restaurant before the incident, please get in touch.
"People in the town need to be on their guard, everybody thinks oh we're just a quiet little town and we potter about.
"It has caught us off guard, it's quite frightening really."
West Yorkshire Police have now launched an investigation into the burglary and are appealing for anyone with any information to get in touch.