THIEVES who broke into a garden centre and stole money from a charity collection tin have been branded ‘disgraceful’.
Two men broke into St Margaret’s Nurseries in St Margaret’s Lane, Titchfield, ransacked the office, stole seeds, ripped a safe from the wall and emptied a the Cancer Research UK box.
Michael Sutton, who runs the nurseries with his 74-year-old mother Pat, said the break-in was particularly galling as the family-run business had been collecting for the cancer charity in memory of his father Len.
Mr Sutton, 45, said: ‘It was a little tin that we kept by the tills. We put a bit of change in there and we collect a couple of hundred pounds each year.
‘The charity box was the horrible bit about the break-in.
‘Stealing from a cancer charity is disgraceful.
‘My dad died of cancer two years ago so we see it as a personal attack. You can’t get lower than that.’
Len set up the business in 1985. He died only weeks after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
Mr Sutton said the box had been emptied six weeks ago, so he estimated the burglars took around £30 in the theft, which happened in the early hours of December 2.
The raiders caused damage to the shop and office costing hundreds of pounds to repair, as well as stealing £100 of goods.
The business has since invested more money beefing up security, installing security lights and stronger locks.
Mr Sutton said: ‘They were obviously looking for cash.
‘They put their hands in the till, they were pulling stuff off the shelves and pulling all the stuff out of the drawers in the office.
‘There was a safe bolted on the wall which they managed to lever off and make off with, which luckily only had gift vouchers in which we have since cancelled.’
Hampshire Constabulary said the burglary happened between 4am and 8.50am on December 2.
The police spokesman said: ‘An investigation is under way.’
Anybody with information is asked to call Fareham police on 101 quoting reference 44140430986.