Shop raiders stole safe from Samaritans and left store trashed

Callous thieves broke into a town centre charity shop, ripped a safe from the floor, and made off with money earmarked for helping some of Blackpool's neediest people.
Sylvia Taylor, shop manager at the Samaritans charity shop in Topping StreetSylvia Taylor, shop manager at the Samaritans charity shop in Topping Street
Sylvia Taylor, shop manager at the Samaritans charity shop in Topping Street

Four days’ takings were stolen during the raid on The Samaritans’ Topping Street shop, which was carried out shortly before dawn by two hooded figures carrying torches.

Shop manager Sylvia Taylor said: “They don’t have a conscience or they would not have done it. It has really, really upset me.”

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The 71-year-old, who has worked at the shop for 26 years, believes it may have been deliberately targeted by burglars who knew what they were looking for.

After forcing three bolts on a back door and smashing an interior door off its hinges, they went straight for the safe – and even checked a cupboard where the key is usually kept by staff.

She said: “The safe was not hidden but it does make me wonder what if it was someone who knew where it was.

“They seemed to know where it was because it was the first thing they took, 
although they might have looked in the till first.”

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Volunteer Alan Robson spotted the break-in after arriving at the shop to open up at around 9.30am on Friday, February 26.

He unlocked and opened the front door, walked through the shop and stock room – which were left untouched –and headed into the kitchen, which had been trashed.

Sylvia said: “It was a mess. All the shelves were pulled down and there were books all over the floor.

“The safe was bolted down under the bookshelves and they had stolen it. But they don’t have the key.”

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Sylvia said just under £400 was taken, but the charity faces a four-figure bill as it replaces the safe, fits a burglar alarm, and installs a new steel back door.

“This money would have supported Blackpool people and people all over the north west. It runs our branch in Edward Street,” she said.

“It’s important and, without our shop, we would be lost. We take around £32,000 a year and that runs the branch.

“There are no words to describe these people. They are just scum, they really are.

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“The staff are very shocked by this, all of them, and this has made people very wary.”

Police are investigating the break-in, the second at the shop in around five years.

A spokeswoman said: “Unknown offenders forced entry to the rear of the shop.

“They then managed to remove a safe that was bolted to the floor before making off undetected.”

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Last time, thieves tried to prise open the safe but failed to do so, Sylvia added.

CCTV footage found the break-in this time happened at around 6.40am.

Anyone with information can report it by calling police on 101 quoting reference number WA1602755.

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