Police are appealing for information after three charity shops were targeted by thieves in the space of a week.
Two charity shops in Stamford and one in Bourne have all had vital charity funds stolen by thieves during three break ins.
The first burglary took place at Penny Lane, on St Paul’s Street in Stamford, the incident happened between 3.30pm on Saturday and 9.30am on Monday.
It is believed entry was gained from the back window to the property and items taken included a safe and an amount of cash.
Penny Lane is managed by the Skills for Work and Living department at New College Stamford, and staffed by young people with learning difficulties and disabilities.
Autism specialist and high cost learner and reviewing officer at New College Stamford Amanda Hana said: “It’s really sad that they go after people that are trying to do something good in the community.
“Our learners don’t understand how someone can do something like this. They would feel like this is a personal attack.”
Soon after the theft at Penny Lane, another burglary took place at a charity shop in Bourne on Monday night.
St Barnabas Hospice shop in North Street, Bourne, was broken into overnight, with thieves removing the shop’s safe from a wall.
They gained access through the back of the shop, by removing a window from upstairs and managed to use a crowbar to remove the safe from the wall which contained cash and fundraising tickets for an upcoming charity event.
Funds for the staff Christmas party were also taken, which volunteers had paid their own money towards.
A collection tin was also removed, along with cash that had been left in the till overnight.
The shop had to close for two days to enable staff to clean up, after the thieves had ‘ransacked’ the place.
Assistant retail manager for St Barnabas Hospice, Caroline Peach, said: “It’s bad enough when you hear about places being broken into, but a theft from a charity shop is just a step too far.”
The third burglary happened in Stamford on St Paul’s Street, the same street as Penny Lane.
Age UK, situated just across the road from Penny Lane, was broken into between 5.15pm on Tuesday, and 8.35am on Wednesday.
Police said the thieves got in through the back door and stole money from a cash box that was hidden, totalling over £100.
Inquiries are still ongoing and the shop had to be closed for the majority of Wednesday, but has since re-opened.
Age UK Stamford, shop assistant, Susan Keiff, said: “The incident has upset us and we feel vulnerable now, the thieves even tried to empty the poppy appeal collection tin - it’s disgusting!”
Manager, Anna Gilbert, said: “It’s upset us all, we were unable to open due to the incident, which means we have not only lost money through the theft but have also lost trade income.
“We are currently running a campaign to get bags of clothes donated to the elderly and this has meant that we have lost a day of donations, which will affect the elderly.”
Hugh Forde, managing director of retail at Age UK, said: “It is a terrible shame when things like this happen. Age UK shops rely on donations to help raise vital funds to support older people.”
Police are currently investigating the burglaries and have carried out a number of inquiries in the area of each of the offences.
Local policing teams have been visiting other businesses in the areas to offer advice and reassurance.
A police spokesman said: “We are looking at various lines of enquiry and whether these offences are linked.
“They occurred in very close succession and we are exploring whether they may have been carried out by the same offender or offenders.
“We appreciate that to other nearby businesses this is of real concern and we want to reassure them that our neighbourhood policing teams are paying particular attention to this area in light of recent events.
“Information from the public can greatly assist us and if you think you know anything about any of these burglaries, even if it does not seem particularly relevant, it could be exactly what we need.”
If you have any information please call police on 101 or you can talk to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.