A BUSINESS owner has been left "devastated" after a thief made off with tens of thousands pounds worth of jewellery.

Jewellery by Lucy Campbell, at The Town Mill, Lyme Regis, was broken into at around 1.40am on Tuesday, September 13 with a thief reportedly stealing almost the entire stock.

A 59-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident.

Lucy said it was as though the "heart and soul" had been "ripped out" of her business.

She said: “We’re talking tens of thousands of pounds - at least £40,000 but it could be much more.

"Police were in the shop (yesterday) gathering evidence and it’s like 98% of the jewellery has been taken - it’s really serious because obviously I make everything by hand so the time it takes to make them is enormous, as well.

“Every piece is hand-made, it’s all unique, which in some ways is a good thing because it makes it distinctive if people are trying to sell it on but I can’t just ring up a supplier and get more stock.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Lucy CampbellLucy Campbell (Image: Lucy Campbell)

Examples of the 'distinctive' jewellery  Pictures: Lucy Campbell

Lucy, who started the business in 2008, estimated the stock lost would take her 'well over a year' to create and said the theft came at the worst possible time - with Christmas markets typically a hot period for her business.

She said: “It quite literally is starting to scratch. I’ve built this business for 14 years and I’m currently in a situation where I have neither the jewellery or the money so it’s almost like we’re back at the very beginning when I first started the business.

“The Christmas markets tend to be a really busy period for us and they tend to be a big deal for a business if you get in - because you can’t just pay your money and book a spot; you have to go through a whole process just to get that spot.

“This is the time of year where I’d be hands-on making stock and focussing towards the Christmas period because that, at the markets, is where we bring in the income to see us through January, February, March - the more production-focussed months.”

Upon learning of the break-in, Lucy said she 'just burst into tears' and urged anyone who might have spotted anything suspicious to report it to the police.

She said: "I feel completely violated. It’s my livelihood and it’s really difficult to get your head around because it’s not just bits that can be replaced: that is my heart and soul, months if not years of work, that someone has just ripped away in the space of an hour.”

A spokesperson for Dorset Police said: "Following enquiries, a 59-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of burglary.

"He has been released on police bail while the investigation continues."