Sabotage claims as yobs smash cafe tipped for contest win

Abderrahim Elqmache surveys the damage to his window display
Abderrahim Elqmache surveys the damage to his window display
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A SHOP window competition has descended into claims of sabotage after a mysterious vandal attack on one of the hot favourites.

The Ecos cafe thought it had the “Top of the Shops” contest in the bag with its elaborate offering before its window was bizarrely smashed through tough metal shutters.

Abderrahim Elqmache, who owns the Moroccan-themed cafe, said he would have to fork out around £500 for repairs but was more concerned about his fate in the imminent council-run competition.

Judges are due to run the rule over the Leith Walk shop today as part of a scheme that has more than 600 independent retailers, restaurants and businesses vying for the title of most improved window display – with a top prize of £3000.

The winner will be decided by the public on Facebook and a panel of judges in a vote.

Mr Elqmache believes the timing of the vandalism may have been co-ordinated to stymie his visit from the judges and harm his bid to win.

“I think this has something to do with the contest because I can’t understand why this would have happened now,” he said. “If you wanted to steal something you would cut through the shutters and then break the window so this is very strange.

“It may be that someone has punched the shutters to do that damage, but I’ve asked everyone and no-one saw anything.

“I have been here for seven years and nothing like this has ever happened before.

“I don’t want to accuse anyone but the timing is very strange. I think I was going to win this contest because I feel like I have a very special window with handmade Moroccan craftwork, unlike any others you might see.”

The 43-year-old said he was so upset when he saw the damage on Friday that he considered not opening the shop that day. It appeared yobs punched the chain mail-like screen, damaging it and cracking the large glass pane behind.

A city council spokeswoman said the vandalism would not affect the Ecos entry.

“We very much hope that Ecos cafe will still be able to take part in Leith Shop Idol and we will obviously take into account the difficult circumstances when judging the display.”

Police are investigating the vandalism.

A spokeswoman said: “A window was cracked and the shutters damaged in the incident which took place between 6pm on Thursday when the owner closed up and 9am on Friday morning.”

“Anyone with any information can contact Lothian and Borders Police on 0131-311 3131, or Crimestoppers in confidence and complete anonymity on 0800-555 111.”