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Lutfiyes installs security cameras after back of restaurant “trashed” repeatedly

By Charmayne Allison

A restaurant supporting struggling locals through COVID-19 has been forced to install security cameras after it was repeatedly trashed.

In addition to giving out free meals to residents doing it tough, Lutfiyes Shish Kebab has recently installed a toilet and shower for the homeless at the rear of the restaurant.

Shepparton businesses and individuals have also donated piles of clothes and blankets and boxes of food to the restaurant, which have been placed out the back for those in need.

But owner Azem Elmaz was gutted when this kindness was returned with contempt, returning to the shop each morning to find food and clothes strewn across the ground.

“They come at night time and trash the place, throwing stuff everywhere,” he said.

“We've had locals drop off boxes of apples, pears and pumpkins from their orchards, but in the morning we've found them tossed all over the ground.

“We have such a generous community that gives so much to support locals in need.

“It's so upsetting to see that generosity returned with such disrespect.”

A small food and drink station set up at the back of the restaurant has also been stripped bare each night.

“By morning, the cups are gone, the jar of sugar, the coffee, everything,” Mr Elmaz said.

The restaurant owner has even resorted to chaining the kettle to the wall to prevent it from being stolen.

“It's only $7.50 from Kmart, but every kettle we buy keeps going missing.”

Azem Elmaz with one of the newly installed security cameras.

While Mr Elmaz was hesitant to install cameras at first, he eventually realised that was the only solution.

“I didn't want to see who was doing it, because I knew I'd get angry,” he said with a laugh.

“But eventually we decided to put a call out, to see if anyone could donate cameras.”

In one day, seven local businesses called Mr Elmaz, offering to donate security systems.

“They were very disappointed when I told them someone else had gotten in first,” he said.

Shepparton's Insight Protection Solutions ended up being the lucky winner, installing a system which included two cameras inside the shop and two more out the back.

“The community had just been unbelievably supportive. That's what keeps us going,” Mr Elmaz said.

While the recent vandalism has been disappointing, Mr Elmaz didn't plan on ceasing his philanthropy any time soon.

“We'll keep going no matter what,” he said.

“Hopefully people will become aware of these cameras and will realise what they're doing is not respectful, and they'll stop.”

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