Thieves raid only shop on Scottish island with population of just 26 people

Thieves have stolen goods from the only shops on Canna
Thieves have stolen goods from the only shops on Canna

A tiny Hebridean island has been rocked by its first crime for decades – a raid on its only shop.

Thieves cleared the shelves of the store on Canna and made off with sweets, chocolate bars, coffee, biscuits, toiletries and batteries.

They even stole six hand-knitted wool hats made by shop manager Julie McCabe.

The island – which has a population of just 26 – normally has a crime rate of zero and has no police station or even a special constable.

The shop, which sells gifts, crafts and groceries, is owned by the Isle of Canna Community Development Trust and is mainly run by volunteers.

It is left open round the clock so that sailors, fishermen and kayakers can use the free wi-fi and help themselves to a cup of tea or coffee.

People who buy groceries make a note of what they have taken in a book and leave the money in an honesty box.

Islanders have been left dismayed by the theft.

The last time a crime was committed on Canna was in the 1960s, when a carved wooden plate was stolen from the Rhu Church. It was never recovered and the case was never solved.

The Isle of Canna shop
The Isle of Canna shop

Miss McCabe, who runs the shop with partner Stewart Connor, said: “We are all pretty gutted.

“I went down and noticed a lot of items were gone. All of the sweets had been cleared out. I got that sinking feeling.

“There was no money taken, just groceries to the value of £200.

“I am absolutely floored that someone has been in and did that to our community.


“I set up the first community shop four years ago at the pier, selling gifts and crafts. We got funding for the new shop from the lottery which has allowed us to stock groceries. It has been really appreciated by visiting yachts people and fishermen.

“We are going to have to consider locking the door at night.

“It is a shame because just now people can go in, make themselves a cup of tea or coffee and use the free wi-fi.

“We are thinking about putting CCTV in, but we don’t want to do that because it goes against the whole honesty idea.”

She added: “When you live on a small island like this you have to trust your neighbour and everybody round about.

“It is pretty shocking to be honest.

“We don’t know who did it. There were 17 yachts in the other night and there was a fishing boat at the pier. We are appealing to them if they saw or heard anything.

“Somebody must have seen something. The volume of stuff they have taken is not just a case of filling your pockets.

“We are just worried it could happen again.

“At first I wasn’t going to report it because it was an honesty system, but the police were happy we did. I phoned our community police officer at Mallaig on the mainland and they will be investigating.

“The money that we make from the shop is used to help fund community projects, so this is very sad.”

Councillor Bill Clark, whose Mallaig and Caol ward takes in Canna, said: “I’m amazed. It must have been visitors. That is astonishing, I just can’t believe that has happened because you just don’t hear about these things happening in the Inner Isles.

“I am very surprised to hear that and it is very unfortunate. I’m sure the people who live on Canna don’t even lock their doors.”