If Ash Chauhan had known there were four blokes in balaclavas on the roof of his Spar store, he would have had a sleepless night. As it was, he only got three hours sleep anyway and then turned up back at the store to find that the reason his Redcare alarm system was faulty was that the men had cut through the wires.

He had been told earlier that day that there was a fault on the BT line to his alarm monitoring company. BT promises a 24-hour service, so Ash waited for them until 3.30am. When they didn't show he thought he would risk a three-hour break and go home to get some kip. He reset the alarm before he left.

When the men on the roof saw him leaving (it probably is lucky that they waited), they cut a big hole, climbed down and spent an hour helping themselves to cigarettes (breaking into locked cabinets to do so) and then went out the way they came in.

The alarm went off but, of course, it wasn't being heard at the monitoring centre.

The damage and loss of stock cost his store in the village of Blackrod in Bolton, Lancashire, £12,000.

He put in his claim with Axa through his Spar-recommended insurance broker, but they kicked it straight back at him.

There is a clause in the contract about Redcare. (I trust this will send those of you who are not sure checking the fine print in your policy's terms and conditions.)

"Spar is trying to organise my own loss assessor," says Ash. "I don't know how I was supposed to find anyone to cover for me at three in the morning."

I sent him to the ombudsman, who is sending him a dispute form. His crime prevention officer says his security is A1, but suggested anti-vandal paint for the roof. Apparently, it's sticky, just like the insurance business.