THE manager of a Ballymoney charity shop hit by burglars who cut their way into a safe has spoken of the “devastation” of staff, writes Nevin Farrell.
But Gina Shields from the Ulster Cancer Foundation shop at Main Street vowed that the hard-working volunteers in the shop will not be beaten by the brazen night time raiders who even helped themselves to cups of tea during the break-in.
The raid happened over night on Thursday into Friday and Mrs Shields discovered there was something wrong when she turned up for work on Friday and noticed a broken window at the rear of the premises.
She immediately called the police and when she and officers entered the premises they found the rear of the store was “thrashed” and money taken from a safe, a ‘float’ and a charity bucket.
She said £500 was taken from the safe, which she believes was cut into with an angle grinder, and the total amount of money taken from the premises was estimated at around £600.
The picky thieves also took some gold jewellery but left behind silver items.
Mrs Shields estimates that when the damage is fixed at the premises the total loss, including the stolen cash, will be in the region of £1,000.
Mrs Shields said members of staff were left tearful after seeing the destruction in the shop but she vowed not to be beaten and it is hoped the Ballymoney public will rally round and help the premises quickly recoup their losses.
She told the Times: “The thieves helped themselves to tea and coffee in the middle of the night before smashing the cups and they even took sweets that the volunteers had brought in.
“The burglars broke the office window and peeled the safe open and they also took my personal laptop which I had left there.
“Thankfully they did not touch the shop floor which was one thing but the fact that somebody would come into a charity shop has left us devastated. All the staff work so hard here. Ballymoney has good people in the town and we appreciate the support we get but this was obviously done by a few undesirables but they will not defeat us.”
And Mrs Shields said that if the culprits are caught she would like to see a judge order them to come and work in the shop to see how much hard graft the volunteers put in.