THE community is rallying round to help a newsagent’s that was targeted in a late-night break-in – and saw three charity boxes stolen.
Thieves smashed their way into Queens Parade News in Gosport at 3.50am on Saturday morning.
As well as damaging the front door and the till, the culprits took three charity tins in their smash-and-grab raid, which has devastated shop owner, Jo Durham.
The tins were in aid of the Harbour Cancer Centre in Gosport, Wave 105 Cash for Kids and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air ambulance.
Mrs Durham, who is on the board of Cash for Kids, said she was distraught after the break-in – the second this year – but has vowed to keep going.
And she has received a boost from loyal customers who are equally sickened by the raid and who have started to donate cash to help Mrs Durham repair the shop, and replace the charity cash that was taken. Some cash has been handed in to the shop, and a Just Giving fundraising website has been set up.
Mrs Durham, 53, said: ‘There are certain lines you don’t cross and stealing from charity is one of those. I feel it's not my money that’s been taken, but my customers’ money. I’ve been broken into before but this one has left me in bits. They are complete and utter lowlifes.’
In June this year raiders broke through the shop’s door and stole cigarettes.
The charity boxes were the only thing to be taken this time, although the damage to the front door will cost Mrs Durham several hundred pounds, whether it is claimed on insurance or whether she covers the cost herself.
Mrs Durham added: ‘My shop is a community shop, in the old-fashioned way – I always tell my customers “my shop is your shop”. I have had little old ladies in here crying, and I have donations of £40 from people, even though it is their money that has been taken. It is bringing people together but it’s not nice.’
Marie Pazzard, who goes in the shop most days, set up the Just Giving page, and last night, donations had started to come in to that.
She said: ‘It really is the lowest of the low. People in the community do not want her to give up, and we want to be able to help her. I know she will battle on, even though as a business person I know how expensive break-ins can be.
‘Jo really will do anything for anyone.’
Police say that the three were on bikes and rode off towards Privett Road. Mrs Durham said that she believed it was pre-meditated as one of the thieves wore a beanie hat which was pulled down to become a balaclava and so protect his identity.
Police want to hear from anyone who knows about the break-in to call them on 101, quoting 44180385335.
The fundraising site is here