POLICE are investigating after four men wearing black balaclavas and brandishing what looked like pickaxe handles tried to smash their way into the White Hart pub at South Harting on Sunday (May 2) night.
Landlord Tony Simpson had only taken over the pub nine weeks earlier.
"It was a frightning experience," he said, "to be confronted by four men who had obviously been watching the SAS movie, dressed in black wearing balaclavas and waving lumps of wood around."
The men had gained entry through the back door as Mr Simpson was closing the front door to the last customer, but were unable to get through a locked fire door into the pub.
"I saw them through the glass, but fortunately it was safety glass and the window was wired.
"I started shouting at them and banging on the door which surprised them. Then they smashed the glass in the door, but couldn't get through.
"I dialled 999 and they ran off empty handed."
He believed the men had been waiting in the garden for the pub to close.
Anyone who saw anything suspicious in the South Harting area on Sunday evening, or who has any other information, is asked contact Sussex Police via 0845 60 70 999 quoting Serial 1734 of 2 May or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 11.