Thieves ripped apart CCTV equipment to avoid detection after smashing their way into a sweet shop in Elgin and stealing £1,000.
Staff at The Candy Shop, which opened on South Street last summer, yesterday said they were “shocked and saddened” at being targeted.
The crooks broke a large glass panel on the store’s front door before raiding the till and grabbing handfuls of cash from rooms upstairs.
In an effort to cover up the offence, the CCTV system’s hard drive was ripped out and taken away.
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The premises was closed for hours yesterday morning while police officers gathered evidence and dusted for fingerprints.
Christina Ireland, who runs the shop, said she was “devastated” after learning of the break-in.
She said: “They went upstairs and took the cash that was there, and they emptied the till of all the cash that was in it. In all, it was about £1,000.
“We are a locally-owned business and not a massive corporation, so the money means a lot to us.
“I’m just angry more than anything else.
“I’ve worked here since it opened in June last year, we all enjoy working here and we work really hard.
“It’s a unique shop, there’s nowhere else like it in the town, and it’s just hurtful that someone would want to do this to a local business like ours.
“There’s so many people who like to come by here for an ice cream or what have you. We have kids, weekend visitors, college students and so on, so it’s a real shame.”
She added: “We hope those responsible are caught.”
The break-in was reported to police at 9.10am by a local man walking to work, and is believed to have taken place between late night on Sunday and early morning yesterday.
Forensics officers investigated the scene before workers were able to clear up in time to open at 1pm, having lost three hours of business.
The front door of the shop was replaced during the afternoon, and no stock was taken.
Two nearby businesses are fitted with CCTV, which Miss Ireland hopes might help police track the perpetrators.
And Candy Shop management have taken urgent action by ensuring that an alarm system will be fitted there today.
Leader of Moray Council and member for the Elgin City South ward, Graham Leadbitter, last night called for anyone with information to help police track those responsible down.
Mr Leadbitter said: “This is obviously a shocking incident, and will clearly be distressing for the owners of what is a relatively new but very popular business in the town.
“I would urge anyone with any information, or who has seen anyone acting suspiciously, to get in touch with the police.”
A police spokeswoman said inquiries were ongoing, and asked anyone with information to contact the force on 101.
The break-in came just two days after the Bon Bon sweet shop in Mintlaw was targeted overnight by thieves who stole hundreds of pounds and trashed the premises.