Blowtorch used in latest break-in at Portsmouth charity shop

COSTLY BHF manager, Andrea Trevaskis, under the damage left by thieves. (113282-365)
COSTLY BHF manager, Andrea Trevaskis, under the damage left by thieves. (113282-365)
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CHARITY shop bosses are appealing for help after thieves again stole cash meant for heart patients.

The manager of the British Heart Foundation shop in Commercial Road, Portsmouth, found a hole smashed in the roof and a safe opened with a blowtorch when she arrived on Wednesday morning.

The well-planned break-in is one of a string of attacks on BHF shops across Hampshire.

As reported in The News in recent months thieves have also targeted stores in West Street, Havant, Stakes Hill Road, Waterlooville, Lewes and Winchester.

Staff in the Portsmouth shop estimate around £200 in cash was stolen.

But with lost stock – such as jewellery and DVDs – and the cost of repairing damage the total bill could be as high as £2,000.

The store’s manager Andrea Trevaskis said: ‘When I saw the destruction I was devastated.

‘You don’t think people will do this – if only they could see the work that goes on behind the scenes.

‘Everyone works so hard to make this place a success and it just leaves us thinking who on earth would target a charity shop?’

The charity’s area manager for the south coast, Preston Davis, said the thieves responsible were ‘the lowest of the low’. He said: ‘We are a business and do operate professionally, but at the end of the day we are rasing money to save people’s lives.

‘The cost of these break-ins will be felt in everything from research to palliative care.

‘We are not a big business that just absorbs this kind of loss, everything comes from donations.’

Mr Davis added: ‘It seems to be that these people think we are an easy target.

‘I don’t know if people don’t believe the signs, but apart from a small amount of till cash there is nothing to steal.

‘These people gained access by smashing through the roof, causing considerable damage.

‘Then they used a blowtorch to open the safe.

‘It seems like a lot of effort for not much reward.’

He added that the Portsmouth shop is now urgently appealing to residents to donate good quality items. To make a donation to the British Heart Foundation branch in Portsmouth call (023) 9287 2598.

Anyone with information can call police on 101. Or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

Callers may qualify for a cash reward.