Business owners in a flood-hit high street say thieves have broken in and stolen up to £30,000 worth of stock from evacuated shops.
Traders at the Old Fire Station building in Newburn, near Newcastle, were forced from their premises as severe flooding hit the village in the early hours of Tuesday morning, leaving shops under 6ft of water.
Keith Bradley from KB Cycles has owned the store for more than 25 years and estimates that between £20,000 and £30,000 of stock was stolen after thieves smashed their way in via a first floor window.
Police have stepped up patrols and have since recovered nine bikes. A man and a woman have been arrested.
Mr Bradley said: "The police told me there was no way anyone could get in and that the building was safe last night.
"They've taken high value cycles which retail for around £1,500 to £2,000 each.
"I'm going to employ my own security guard to protect the shop tonight.
"The pressure of the floodwater has raised the car park below and the tarmac has risen up by about 8ft or so.
"The thieves have just got up on the car park, where they can reach a roller shutter, and then climbed up from there and popped a window to get in."
Julie Watson who owns AJ Bridal Wear shop in the Old Fire Station building is still unable to access her premises.
The mum-of-one from Chester-Le-Street said: "Keith who runs the cycle shop found out some toe-rag has burgled his shop.
"On top of all the devastation, they do something like that, it's disgusting.
"I can't get into my shop to find out if anything has been stolen because there is about six feet of silt against the entrance."
Acting Chief Superintendent Dave Byrne said: "The safety of business owners and residents is paramount and it is despicable if people are thinking of taking advantage of the bad weather and using it as an opportunity to break in to properties.
"We have increased patrols in Newburn, however, as always, it is important that people remember to take their own steps to ensure the security of their premises and belongings and make sure they securely lock doors and windows and use alarms where they have them.
"Two people have been arrested on suspicion of burglary and are helping with our enquiries. In addition, nine bikes have been recovered.
"Regular police patrols will continue to be carried out in the area and I would urge anyone who has any concerns to speak to officers or contact police on 101."
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