HEARTLESS vandals broke into two town centre charity shops in the space of 12 hours this week.

Staff at Age UK and Cancer Research UK in Havelock Street walked into work yesterday morning to find their back doors smashed down, filing cabinets prised open as well as much of their donated goods scattered across the shop floors.

The culprits managed to walk away with £400 - much to the disappointment of the teams at both stores who volunteer their time to raise much-needed funds for both charities.

Kathy Pitts, assistant manager at Age UK said: “They have damaged both of our doors that are going to have to be replaced. Whoever has done this has taken some goods from our shop and luckily they didn’t find where we keep our cash but they found money next door.

“The butchers reported it to the police when we got here at around 8am. I park out the back so when I came in all I could see was that the wood on the back door had been splintered off and it was wide open.

“I didn’t know what to think.

“They have just ransacked the place and it is heartbreaking. Both of us are charity shops that support causes that most people will need help from at one stage of their life.

“What is odd is that none of the other premises were targeted but it was just us two charity shops.”

The vandals took a Nintendo Wii console from Age UK but left the computing equipment untouched.

Yesterday morning, Wiltshire Police’s forensic team visited both stores to collect evidence such as fingerprints as well as taking photos of the damage caused. But due to the lack of CCTV at the back of the shops, their powers of investigation are limited.

Kathy, who has worked at Age UK for over eight years, added: “There is no CCTV and the thing is we have been broken into before out the back. That time we had our back door set on fire and so we’ve made it as secure as possible. It is just such a shame that there is no CCTV to help find who did this.

“We had no choice but to reopen to try and make back any money we can to help pay for the repairs.

“It is just a matter of trying to carry on like normal now.

“Someone must have seen something because they took the time to break into two shops and they must have been here a while.

“We don’t feel safe and being a charity shop, we rely on volunteers. But at this time of the year volunteers go on holiday so they can’t commit as much as they would normally. Sometimes it puts us in a single-manned position so when something like this happens it doesn’t make you feel safe at all.”

Wiltshire Police confirmed they were investigating the break-ins.

A spokesman said: “At Age UK, £20 in cash was stolen and at Cancer Research, just under £400 cash was stolen. Our enquiries are continuing and we are appealing for anyone who witnessed or heard any suspicious activity in the area to get in touch via 101.”