Thieves smash car into Mandarin Tree

Mandarin Tree break-in
Not long after the break-in. All pics Claudia Aalderink.

THIEVES drove a vehicle through the front doors of Gordonton art gallery The Mandarin Tree early this morning.

Owner Claudia Aalderink was woken by police telling her the gallery had been broken into at 3am.

She arrived at the shop not long after to find the front doors smashed in and glass everywhere.

“After the intitial tears, I pulled myself together and with the help of friends we set to with brooms and began cleaning it up.”

Her initial concern was for the artists who have artwork in the gallery. “I feel a strong responsibility for the people I represent.”



Break-in Mandarin Tree


Although the thieves had gained entry, they didn’t get anything. “I never keep cash on site. The till is always empty and the drawer kept open to show this.”

Only a few small items were broken by the impact.

Police told Number 8 Network they think the break-in occurred after 1am.  A security guard made the initial call and an officer was at the premises about 30 minutes later. He said these sorts of ram-raids were becoming very common ‘with a particular group of people’.

Police fingerprinters took prints this morning. Parts of the car’s number plate frame were left amongst the broken glass – but there is a strong likelihood the vehicle was stolen.


Break-in Mandarin Tree
The clean-up begins…

Glass was also strewn between the gallery and the road, probably fallen from the fleeing vehicle.

Claudia says she is relieved nothing was taken and that the damage was minimal. “Some of the art work I have is simply irreplacable.”

The Mandarin Tree
Not long after the car smashed through the front doors. Photo: Annette Taylor


This is the first time in three years of business that she has been broken into.

“Our landlord will drop off some concrete troughs to make it harder for them to repeat. It’s difficult as a small business to keep our head above water, and this kind of thing just before Christmas is hard.”

However, it will be business as usual today.

“We might be boarded up for a while, but we’re still open. ”


Security footageof the ram raid has been passed on to police, who told N8N they are working on strong leads.  Two concrete troughs have been delivered by the landlord out front of the shop.

Claudia also took this photo on the morning and thanked all who had helped out, passed on messages of support or delivered an old fashioned hug.

Mandarin Tree


AND the next day, children from Gordonton School began work on a mural to brighten the plywood facade.  “Inspired by a beehive artwork and our logo the children created an awesome design and it has put a big smile on our faces,” says Claudia.


The Mandarin Tree



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