Weston Hospicecare staff are today picking up the pieces after an overnight break-in at one of the charity’s popular Weston-super-Mare shops.
Raiders struck at the Milton Road store by forcing their way in through a fire door, before ransacking a staff area and helping themselves to a small amount of cash.
They also rifled through drawers and stole a hospice collecting tin, before needlessly smashing a glass door at the front of the shop.
It is thought the thieves may have secured entry by tampering with a fire door while posing as customers during the day, and then forcing the vulnerable door with a crowbar that night.
Witnesses have since reported seeing two people exiting an alley running alongside the premises at around 12.40am this morning (Thursday, February 14) – around the same time as a neighbour heard a noise which he had assumed to be customers dropping off a stock donation.
Weston Hospicecare’s retail director Gemma Turner condemned the criminals for depriving the hospice of money which would have been used to help care for patients.
She said: “It’s terribly upsetting for the whole team to arrive this morning and find the shop in such a state.
“We will now have to go to the expense of installing expensive security equipment and cameras, and it will cost us money to have the doors repaired and re-glazed and to clean up too.
“This will have a direct impact on the care we are able to give to our patients, which is of course the main purpose behind our shops.
“I would, however, like to say a big thank you to the Milton Road shop team for their calm and professional response to the incident, and to the police for getting investigators onsite so quickly.
“We will now turn our attention to cleaning up the damage, and look to get the shop open again. We’ve been enormously grateful to the Milton Road community for supporting this shop since it opened in summer 2017, and look forward to resuming normal service as soon as possible.”
Police have been carrying out a forensic examination of the scene this morning, and plan to follow that up with door-to-door witness inquiries later on.
Anyone with information is urged to contact police on 101. Meanwhile, the Milton Road shop – which is supported by a team of more than 20 volunteers and sells fashion items, books, games and bric-a-brac – is expected to reopen tomorrow (Friday).