A tin full of donations for a children’s charity has been stolen from an Aberdeenshire garden centre in a “despicable” act.
The collection for Charlie House, which supports the families of children with serious disabilities and life-limiting illnesses in the north-east, was taken from the Inverurie Garden Centre on Sunday afternoon.
The dismayed charity said the loss of such funds would inevitably mean less support for vulnerable families.
Simon Robertson, catering director at the garden centre, said: “It had been chained down, so someone would have had to have gone out of their way to steal it.
“It’s just heartbreaking. A theft is always bad, but when it’s stealing from a charity, at this time of year, it’s just shocking.
“Charlie House depends on companies like us to gather cash for them and help out, and there was quite a bit of money in it as well.”
Mr Robertson said the staff tip jar had also been stolen.
“We found out at the end of the day, when we took the tills in, that the charity tin had gone missing.
“We eventually discovered it had actually been taken, because it wasn’t anywhere on site, and worked out that it was taken between 2.30pm and 4.30pm.
Mr Robertson has, however, been heartened by the response of kind-hearted customers, who have offered to donate extra cash to Charlie House to replace what was stolen.
Susan Crighton, director of fundraising at Charlie House, said: “This is so disappointing to hear.
“Organisations like Inverurie Garden Centre raise wonderful amounts for us through collection cans being kindly displayed.
“Sadly, less funds means less support for local families who need it most, especially at this time of year.
“We hope someone knows its whereabouts, understands the implications of the missing money, and it is returned with the money intact.”
PC James Stewart, a Garioch community police officer, said: “This is a despicable act at any time of the year, but particularly during the festive period.
“I would appeal for anyone with any information to contact Police Scotland on 101.”
Crimestoppers can also be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111.