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Anger as ‘cowardly’ thieves ransack north-east charity shop in overnight raid

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Volunteers at a Peterhead charity shop have been left devastated after heartless thieves broke into their charity shop, pocketing donations and leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.

One long-serving volunteer said she was “disgusted and broken-hearted” to arrive at the Cancer Research UK shop in Drummers Corner to find it had been ransacked overnight, in the latest crime to hit the town centre.

At some point between lock-up time on Friday and the following morning thieves broke down the shop’s back door before going through the till, store room and shop, clearing shelves and leaving a trail of destruction behind.

It’s not known how much damage has been caused, or the exact value of goods taken.

Once made secure, the shop was left, for coronavirus reasons, ahead of a clean and then picking up the pieces.

One volunteer appealing for information on social media shared photographs showing bags of donations torn open and strewn across the store, lockers forced open and emptied, and the till drawer lying open.

The usually well organised and welcoming shop was left looking unrecognisable.

Alongside the photos documenting the devastation, she said she was “absolutely disgusted and broken-hearted that someone would have the cheek to do this to such a worthwhile cause.”

She added it was “soul-destroying” and that those responsible may have had relatives  lucky enough to benefit from the very work the shop supports, adding “not that they would appreciate that”.

Another volunteers described those responsible as the “lowest of the low” while their colleague suggested it was “disheartening” as it “wasn’t the first time” the shop had been targeted.

The break-in came just a month after the charity shop’s front was covered in grafitti and almost a year to the day since neighbouring shop Shoe Zone was hit by thieves.

More than £280,000 has been earmarked for the rejuvenation of Drummers Corner, which in time will see the installation of a new raised performance area and upgrades to seating and lighting.

Peterhead councillor Dianne Beagrie said security camera are included in that plan, though would have made little difference in this instance as thieves broke in through back of the shop.

“I was really disappointed to hear about this incident,” she said.

“I have been in touch with staff and will be picking up on it. Hopefully they find out who was responsible.

“It’s really not what people need at this time, especially at a shop like this which is there to assist in times of hardship.”

Cancer Research UK spokesman Martin McGlown said times were hard enough for the charity, with lockdown restrictions having lost the charity more than £160 million, forcing cuts to some of its research funding programmes.

He said: “It is deeply upsetting to learn of the break-in at our Peterhead shop and we hope those responsible will be swiftly identified and brought to justice.

“Cancer Research UK relies on the generous support of the public to continue its life-saving work, including those who shop at our stores or donate quality pre-loved items.

“It’s very hard for staff and volunteers at the Peterhead shop to comprehend how anyone could stoop so low as to ransack the premises.”

Police were alerted at about 8.30am on Saturday and officers have appealed for information. Inquiries are ongoing.

PC Aidan Sparey said: “Anyone with information, particularly those with CCTV within the Drummer’s Corner or Prince Street, Peterhead area at the time is urged to contact police. We will continue to explore all lines of inquiry.”

North-east MSP Peter Chapman, meanwhile, described the break-in as “sickening” and urged anyone with information to come forward.

“To target a Cancer Research charity shop in this way is absolutely despicable and cowardly,” he said.

“Charities have been hugely affected by the coronavirus pandemic and it’s sickening to see this happen to the Peterhead branch.

“I would urge anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in the area to contact police immediately.

“It’s important those responsible for this incident are caught and dealt with.”

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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