MONEY is tight and Moredon Post Office director Atul Patel may struggle to make ends meet in the coming weeks after £2,500 in cigarettes were stolen from his premises last week.

Shortly after 4am last Tuesday a man broke into the Purton Road shop through the back door from the alley which separates it and Moredon Stores.

After using a crowbar to pry open the exterior door he smashed through a panel in an interior door, crawled into the store and bagged the cigarettes before emptying the till of approximately £30, as well as £50 in staff lottery winnings.

Mr Patel, 50, is now counting the cost of his first break-in in 23 years, as he scratches around for the cash needed to restock his cigarette reserves at the Post Office and newsagent.

“It’s going to be tight for us now, because business is bad anyway, everything is tight, even without the theft. It’s upsetting because we make real money on cigarettes and it costs a lot to bring them in.

“We are struggling to get the cash to make up for the stock we lost. The damage to the two doors has also cost us plenty too. It is already costing £100 to put the interior door right and we plan to have them both reinforced too.

“We are also going to upgrade the alarm system.”

It was the alarms which alerted Mr Patel in the first instance. He was woken with a call at 4.15am from the company which manages the system and told he was being broken into.

The director raced to the store from his Abbey Meads home, but encountered a store and back office turned upside down.

He was also left without the blood monitor he uses to manage his diabetes, though he cannot understand why.

Mr Patel has run the post office since July 1990 and in that time his customers have grown to become friends.

He is confident the break-in is not the result of some recent grudge and has faith in the members of the community who have already raised the alarm on Facebook for people to look out for anyone selling-on the cigarettes.

“I am sure it is nothing personal. The man tried to break into the shop next door first, but couldn’t force the door with his crowbar,” said Mr Patel.

“People on Facebook have been saying they’re going to look out for any stolen items. In my time I have had a lot of customers, who I now consider friends.”

Also last week, break-ins were reported in nearby Blair Parade, at Golden Star takeaway and Virgilio’s barber shop.

Wiltshire Police said the male suspect at the post office incident is of a medium build, approximately five feet seven inches in height and wearing dark clothing.

Anyone with information should call 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, where information can be left anonymously.