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Thieves clean out restaurant’s high-end liquor cabinet

Last Updated May 22, 2018 at 6:45 pm EDT

The owner of a restaurant was left with a nearly $20,000 tab after a group of thieves broke into his downtown restaurant and cleaned out his high-end liquor cabinet.

But beyond his missing booze, he’s wondering why it took police nearly 12 hours to answer his call for help.

Maezo restaurant on Richmond Street West was burgled in the early hours of Saturday morning. Owner Amit Sukhwani says he went to his business later that morning after he received a call from the building’s security company.

Sukhwani says he found his front door shattered, his register cleaned out, laptop and tablets stolen and about $16,000 in high-end liquor missing.

Security video shows a group of three to five people with backpacks loitering around the restaurant earlier in the day. Sukhwani believes the same group came back later that night to break in.

“They had the audacity to even drink from the alcohol,” Sukhwani told CityNews, pointing to an empty bottle of Jack Daniels that the police dusted for fingerprints.

He says his restaurant carries a variety of single-malt scotches, wines and rums, including some that aren’t available at the LCBO.

Sukhwani has owned the  business for nearly two years, and he says this is the first time it’s been broken into.

He said the thieves left his restaurant in a massive mess and he was forced to shut down over the long weekend — but that wasn’t the only factor keeping his doors closed.

“Since the cops are not here you could not clean up the place. Why? Because then you’re messing with the crime scene,”  Sukhwani said. He added that the attending officer mentioned it took a while to come because 52 Division, was short-staffed and the call was not high priority.

Sukhwani says he called police as soon as he realized he’d been robbed. A spokesperson for Toronto police confirmed they received a call at 10:35 a.m., but didn’t respond until 9:08 p.m. Const. Caroline de Kloet told CityNews in a statement that 52 division is not short-staffed.

“This was a Saturday morning of a long weekend in 52 Division. We prioritize all of our calls and we were dealing with higher priority calls at the time,” she said.

Sukhwani says he’s spoken with his insurance company and they’ll likely cover all his costs, but it will take time and effort to replace some of his unique bottles.