Larne’s Cancer Research UK charity shop was one of three Main Street businesses which were targeted in a spate of burglaries last week.
Maud’s Ice Cream Parlour and Robinson’s Furniture were also broken into in the incidents, which occurred overnight between Wednesday, October 21 and Thursday October 22.
Cash was taken from all three premises and two mobile phones were stolen.
The PSNI’s Reactive and Organised Crime branch is investigating a link between the incidents.
Cancer Research UK Manageress Sharon Steenson said she was “disgusted” that thieves had targeted a shop which raises money for an illness which affects many local families.
“One in three people are affected by cancer, but they didn’t make any distinction, and now we are going to have to use some of the money that would have gone to the charity to repair the shop, as we are responsible for the premises,” she revealed.
“They took a fire extinguisher to the safe, which was nailed to the floor, and used it to batter it and release it. They also used a drill to gain access to the safe.
“They got (a small amount of cash) in the safe, but it is going to cost us a lot of money to replace. They also took an expensive Nikon D3200 camera, a 35mm Nikon lens and an 18-200mm Tamron telephonic lens, which in total are worth £800-900.”
“They belong to Rodney Maxwell, who had been taking photos for our Stand Up to Cancer Campaign.
“They also damaged the fire door.
“We didn’t open until 2pm so we lost trade and Thursday is normally a busy day.
“It seems to have been very professional and targeted,” she concluded.
While the shop is now operating as normal again, Sharon says they will be making security stronger to discourage the thieves from returning.
Owner and manageress of Maud’s Ice Cream Parlour Jane Pollock agreed that the burglars acted in a “clinical” manner after they stole her shop’s CCTV hard drive and pointed the camera towards the ceiling.
“This is the first time we have been targeted since I came here six-and-a-half years ago,” she said.
“They got the float out of the til and it was lunch time before we were able to open up which caused disruption and we lost the morning takings.
“We have strengthened our security and we will have to replace our door, which was smashed, and our CCTV.
“We have a seasonal business and it is also a family business.
“I feel vulnerable in the shop now but it’s my livelihood.”
Owner of Robinson’s Furniture shop Michael Robinson said he was “shocked” at the incident, and that it was the first time his premises had been targeted in this way.
All three retailers are warning other local traders to remain vigilant due to the recent criminal activity.
East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons added: “I condemn these burglaries and would urge anyone with any information to go to the police. I would also urge people, in both their homes and businesses to be vigilant.”
Detective Sergeant Crothers appealed for anyone with information to contact police on101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.