A FAMILY-RUN dry cleaners was left £100 out of pocket after a customer threatened to “burn the shop down” before taking his clothes and leaving without paying.

Staff at Smart Dry Cleaning, in Stanway, agreed to keep the business open late at the request of a customer, who brought in “heaps” of clothing to be washed.

The rude client insisted the shop remain open so he could arrive later that evening, but he failed to turn up.

Instead the man arrived the following morning and began hurling abuse at staff, before launching kicks at items around the store.

Nejo Dagdelan who has owned the business for eight years, said he had never seen anything like it.

He said: “He brought a lot of stuff in, I never seen anyone bring that much stuff in. The girl working there spent all day washing these clothes.

“It was an entire family’s clothing.

“She did the job nicely and did a good job, we were of course happy to do it.

“He rang my colleague and told us we would have to work until 7.30pm as he was an Irish Gypsy.”

After failing to show up, the young man, who was aged about 20 and driving a Ford pick-up truck, arrived late the next morning.

He was immediately aggressive so Mr Dagdelan hoped to deal with the bill as quickly as possible.

He added: “He was shouting and swearing in the shop, kicking stuff. I told him to get out, I was scared - I said I would call the police.

“He told me he would kill my family and come back burn my shop.

“My colleague had helped him carry the stuff to his van “He had brought little kids with him, who were crying. I was shouting just pay the bill and go away. As soon as I turned around he left and didn’t pay.”

Mr Dagdelan called Essex Police, but says officers are yet to visit the business to take a statement.

He added: “We have perhaps had a few travellers come in and they have always been very respectful - shaken our hands when we’re finished.

“This is the first time we have been treated like this - it was horrible.

“Afterwards I just felt someone needs to stand up and shout about it - I don’t want them to get away with something like this again.”

An Essex Police spokesman said the incident took place at 11.20am on Wednesday, February 7. Anyone with information should call 101.