Hartlepool hospice charity is raided just months after arson attack refurbishment
A charity shop that raises thousands of pounds for Hartlepool's hospice has been raided again - just months after reopening following a devastating arson attack.
The Alice House Hospice shop in Horden only re-opened in late June last year after a full refit following a serious blaze.
Now in a fresh blow for the Hartlepool-based charity, the shop has been targeted by criminals again by being broken into over the weekend, which was discovered when staff arrived to open up on Monday morning.
Thieves smashed their way in to the shop in Blackhills Road through a back window sometime between closing on Saturday afternoon and opening up yesterday.
Shop manager Claire Taylor said: "I just walked through the front door and felt a breeze. When I walked into the back I saw the smashed glass all over and the fire door was open.
"I just felt sick thinking somebody had been in."
A cash box and a couple of Royal Doulton figurines were stolen in addition to the damage to the window.
But managers have been left sickened that they have been targeted again as the shop generates around £24,000 a year for care provided by Alice House Hospice to sick and terminally ill people.
Claire added: "They haven't taken a lot but it's just awful. It's absolutely terrible and heartbreaking."
The shop suffered a major setback in October 2017 when it was burgled then set on fire in what police called ‘a cowardly attack’.
Thieves then stole the safe and all of the donated stock was destroyed.
Karen Witherley, Alice House Hospice's senor retail manager said: "The shop looked lovely and had all been refitted, and for somebody to break into it again I'm lost for words to be honest.
"I can't understand why someone would do that. They have broken the door and window which will need repairing.
"It's money we shouldn't really have to be spending. Claire is so passionate about the shop."
It is not the first time heartless thieves have stolen from the hospice. In Christmas 2017 money was taken from the charity's memorial tree stall in Middleton Grange shopping centre.
And in December 2015, crooks snatched cash from its charity shop in Murray Street, Hartlepool, while staff members' backs were turned.
Durham Police are investigating the latest incident in Horden.
A spokesman said: "Officers were called to reports of a burglary in Horden on Monday morning.
"The incident which occurred at Alice House Hospice in Horden is believed to have taken place between Saturday, March 2, and Monday, March 4.
"Damage has been caused to the property however nothing is believed to have been taken.
"Enquiries are ongoing."
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 quoting reference number 76 of March 4.