Man who destroyed Plymouth and Costa art shop avoids jail
A burglar who broke into three businesses closed because of the coronavirus – including a popular art store – has avoided jail.
Lucas Messer, 29, admitted to making his way around The Art Side, as well as a Costa and Tesco store in one night.
Plymouth’s only specialty art store was cleaned up for most of the next day.
Generous supporters of the Mayflower Street store have set up two social media fundraising accounts, helping to raise around Â£ 1,000.
But husband and wife owners Garry and Teresa Haine kindly donated the money to a town charity against domestic violence.
Still working behind the scenes, they are also preparing a coloring book for children in public housing with the Plymouth Domestic Abuse Service (PDAS).
Messer, of Chaddlewood Avenue, St Judes, pleaded guilty to three burglaries at the Costa Cafe on Mutley Plain, the Tesco Express on Alexandra Road and the Art Side store on Mayflower Street from March 31 to April 1.
He stole spray cans and paint sticks worth Â£ 150 from The Art Side – but cost the store much more in damage than it caused.
Messer took some food from Costa and walked away empty-handed from Tesco.
He also admitted the theft of a bottle of wine worth Â£ 6.50 from Lidl on April 22.
Exeter Magistrates, who heard the Plymouth cases during the lockdown, handed Messer a 12-month community order with the rehab activity requirement of probation.
He must also pay compensation of Â£ 250 to The Art Side.
The couple posted the news of the break-in on Facebook to let customers know that deliveries could be delayed, and within hours, floods of people had shared their displeasure at the break-in.
Facebook user Harriet Moore said, âThey have been such an essential resource for all of us creatives, and I’m so sad that someone is doing this!
Harriet has created a GoFundMe page to help The Art Side owners get back on their feet, and she’s asking people to donate if they can. You can find the link to the page here.
A second GoFundMe page was also set up by a co-worker of Teresa, unaware that there was already a page. You can find it here.
But Garry and Teresa have decided to donate all of the Â£ 1,001 raised so far to PDAS.
Garry told Plymouth Live last month, âThe influx of support we have seen has absolutely blown us away. Local artists have even offered to provide original artwork for a coloring book that we, The Art Side, will print, bind and deliver along with the art supplies. “