THIEVES broke into a martial arts centre at the weekend and stole money destined for 10-year-old boy Luca Railton.
G5 Martial Arts and Wellbeing Centre, on the Elgin Industrial Estate, was targeted over the weekend when £500 was taken along with an iPhone.
Of the money taken, about £400 was destined to be given to Luca, to pay for vital surgery to avoid having his leg amputated.
The thieves broke in via the window before rummaging their way around the office. They took a bucket with the money raised for Luca as well as a tin with money for the centre.
Steph Robinson, 35, who works as a volunteer at the gym and has been helping with the fundraising, says she is shocked and appalled by the incident.
“To be honest I’m feeling a bit numb about the whole thing because it’s so upsetting,” she said.
“A lot of people don’t think that much when a business is broken into because we can claim on insurance but this is taking money which was due to go to a little boy.
“People have been so kind and generous to donate that money and now it has just been taken.”
Workers at the centre chose to raise money for Luca, a pupil at Prior Park School in Cricklade, after hearing about his problems through a customer.
They held a cake sale and a guess the weight of the cake game while also collecting donations. The money was in a bucket and taken from a locked office.
Steph said: “My partner received a call from the police after some neighbours had called them. We couldn’t believe it because people have been so generous.
“I hope the people feel really ashamed of themselves when they find out where the money has come from. If someone knows who has done this then we would ask them to please come forward.
“Everyone is feeling a bit down about it but we’re determined as ever to keep on raising money.”
Luca’s mother, Teresa, said while it was a shame the money had been taken it was important to carry on fundraising.
She said: “The people I feel most sorry for are those who have worked hard and donated money to help Luca.
“Everyone has been really generous but we need to learn what we can from it and move forward. Unfortunately these things do happen but you can’t let it stop you.”
A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said: “We received a call from neighbours reporting a break in at the G5 on Sunday afternoon. Thieves smashed two windows and forced a door. They took with them a sum of of cash believed to be around £500. The robbery is believed to have taken place between 5pm on January 11 and 11.40pm on January 12.
“We will be speaking to neighbouring businesses but we would ask anyone with information to contact us by calling 101.”