THIEVES ripped a hole in a charity shop roof to steal cash meant for heart patients.
Shocked staff arrived at the British Heart Foundation store in Stakes Hill Road, Waterlooville, to discover gaping holes in the first floor ceiling and roof where tiles had been removed.
The thieves had ripped a metal safe containing two £40 floats from the wall and winched it up through the hole, and ransacked the storeroom and office overnight on Sunday.
They stole jewellery and other items donated to raise cash and even smashed manager Cath Percival’s desk up in the process.
But one bungling burglar left a footprint on the ceiling panel they had kicked in.
Yesterday scenes of crime officers from Hampshire Constabulary scoured the scene for forensic evidence that could be used to help catch the culprits.
Cath Percival has managed the shop for about 13 years.
She said: ‘They made a hole in the roof and pushed their way through the ceiling to get in.
‘They have literally ripped the safe off the desk and threw things all over the place.
‘People have donated to us out of the kindness of their hearts.
‘We had a good Saturday but we put the money into the bank.
‘I was in on Sunday until about midday.
‘I came through the back door at about 8am [on Monday].
‘The first thing I noticed was a tower of plates my mum had donated.
‘They were pushed against the door so the door was open.
‘They had tried to get into the main shop but they couldn’t get in. Then I came upstairs and saw the door ajar.
‘The first thing I saw was all the stuff all over the floor. Then I looked up and saw the roof.
‘They have been through the jewellery and all the boxes. They smashed my desk.
‘There was a blue velvet presentation box that had two silver serviette rings in it that somebody had donated that’s gone.’
It is the second time in less than two years that thieves have used the same method to target the shop.
As reported in The News, DVDs, jewellery and about £140 were stolen after crooks smashed a hole in the roof – in virtually the same place – in October 2009.
So this latest theft has caused double devastation for Cath, who works with about 48 volunteers to raise an average £2,400 a week at the branch.
She added: ‘They have moved the tiles away and kicked a hole in the ceiling. They kicked through where they have come through before.
‘We have been going 50 years this year and we are really trying to boost the money we are making.
‘We are all trying so hard at the moment to give as much money as we can. For people to break in and steal from us again is horrible.’
Anyone with information is asked to contact Waterlooville police station on 101 or the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555111.
To make a donation to the British Heart Foundation branch in Waterlooville call 023 9225 3476.