Callous crooks raid charity shop twice

PUBLISHED: 10:49 10 October 2007 | UPDATED: 12:57 04 May 2010

Branching Out students, (from left) Lillian, Chris, Alison, Scott and Tom with shop assistant, Linda Norman who have twice been the victims of thieves.

Branching Out students, (from left) Lillian, Chris, Alison, Scott and Tom with shop assistant, Linda Norman who have twice been the victims of thieves.

CRUEL thieves have robbed students with learning disabilities of cash for their outings after smashing their way into a Littleport charity shop twice in just eight days. In the first raid, burglars prised the safe from the wall and fled with around £140 i

CRUEL thieves have robbed students with learning disabilities of cash for their outings after smashing their way into a Littleport charity shop twice in just eight days.

In the first raid, burglars prised the safe from the wall and fled with around £140 in cash, some of which had been raised by selling wooden items made by students of the Branching Out charity.

They also stole a digital camera, used to take photos for the students' portfolios, and the keys to the till, possibly leaving it unusable.

Two computers were disconnected but were left behind by the raiders' in their hurried search for valuables, and staff at the High Street shop believe they may have been disturbed.

Just a week after staff had replaced a window broken by the raiders, they smashed it again and made off with a stereo system.

CCTV cameras installed to protect the shop failed to record the break-ins because they had been damaged when recent heavy rain poured through the shop's leaking roof.

Charity co-ordinator, Heidi Constable, said: "They stole our collection tins which held around £20. The money goes directly into the fund to pay for the students' outings.

"The safe was bolted onto to the wall and contained our petty cash and money from the sale of bird tables and other items made by the students.

"The students are very concerned. This is their shop and they work here and enjoy it."

After the first break-in on Tuesday last week, staff took the shop takings home in the hope of preventing a repeat incident. But raiders broke in again on Wednesday evening.

Now staff will have to pay again for repairs to the window and may be forced to replace the till at a cost of up to £400.

"We are deeply saddened by these events," said shop general manager, Susan Wiggans. "We are a very small charity and all the money we raise in the charity shop goes towards adults with learning disabilities helping them support their local community and working for the environment."

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Ely Police on 0845 456 4564 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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