Hotel Chocolat fans are in shock at the news that the beloved Chocmobile was stolen from Hotel Chocolat's HQ in Hertfordshire in the early hours of Wednesday 31st July 2019.
On 31st July, boss Angus Thirlwell put out a tweet asking for the public's help in finding the Chocmobile. A day later, the company tweeted that those with information that lead to the Chocmobile's recovery shall be rewarded with an invite to their "top secret Inventing Room" and a "5 year subscription to [their] Monthly Tasting Club".
As you might expect, these messages were met with some scepticism on social media, with some comments suggesting this was a publicity stunt. But CCTV footage shared with The Argus appears to show three male thieves opening the gates to the secure car park at the Hotel Chocolat head office in Royston, Hertfordshire. They appear to smash a window on the 2017/2018 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Chocmobile and then drag it out using a 4x4 car. It was loaded onto a flatbed trailer in a brazen operation that took around an hour.
In an interview with The Argus, Thirwell commented that the van was equipped with a vehicle tracking system although it appears not to be very precise. Nonetheless, Hertfordshire Police are investigating the crime. A Hotel Chocolat spokeswoman told the BBC "To be honest, it's pretty hard to miss. And we want it back."
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The Chocmobile made a cameo appearance in Channel 5's behind-the-scenes documentary into Hotel Chocolat that was broadcast earlier this year. The van was scheduled for a variety of food festivals and events over the next few months, including:
- Countryfile Blenheim Palace on 1st to 4th August 2019.
- Countryfile Castle Howard on 15th to 18th August 2019.
- The Big Feastival on 23rd to 25th August.
- Woking Food Festival 2019 on 30th August to 1st September 2019.
- Pub in the Park Chiswick on 6th to 8th September 2019, and again on 13th to 15th September 2019.
Clearly, as the Chocmobile has not yet been recovered, it is unlikely that Hotel Chocolat's mobile shop, cafe, ice cream, and hot chocolate van will make an appearance at these or other events in the near future.
Hotel Chocolat is using the #FindTheChocmobile hashtag to help gather information. If you have any details about the van's whereabouts or the thieves involved, get in touch with Hotel Chocolat on social media or privately, or contact Hertfordshire Police. The rewards could be very delicious indeed.