A charity shop has been left counting the cost after thieves broke in just days after its official opening.
The break-in at the Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice shop in Worthing is believed to have caused hundreds of pounds of damage.
Thieves forced their way in through the back of the shop in Montague Street before stealing the float from the till and running off.
The theft on Tuesday night (December 11) came just three days after Olympic silver medal winner and Findon-based eventer Tina Cook officially declared the shop open.
She was joined by the hospice’s chairman of trustees, Guy Clinch, and chief executive Hugh Lowson as well as staff and volunteers.
After declaring the shop officially open, Tina cut a celebration cake to mark the occasion, decorated with a hand-crafted horse and rider, before browsing the donated items for sale.
Mr Lowson said: “After such a fantastic official opening of our latest shop on Saturday, we are truly saddened to hear of the break-in.
“Charity shops are our window into the community and provide us with a valuable income stream.
“We rely on the generosity of the people of Sussex, and charity shops are a simple but effective way for the local community to show their support for the hospice.
“It’s such a shame that someone would choose to do such a terrible thing, especially after all the recent work on the shop to get it open to the public and the support received from our customers.”
Hospice head of retail Colin Wakefield said: “We hope to have the shop repaired as soon as possible.”
Sussex Police said the break-in, which happened between 5pm on Tuesday and 8.15am yesterday (December 12), was being investigated.
Anyone with information is asked to call 101, quoting serial 0212 of 12/12.
Chestnut Tree House, based near Arundel, cares for hundreds of children and their families from across Sussex.
It has shops in Worthing, Hove, Brighton, Arundel, Billingshurst, Eastbourne, Seaford and Havant.
The shops are always looking for donations of good quality clothes, books, DVDs, furniture, toys and bric-a-brac.
Collection of large items can be arranged.
Contact the retail office on 01903 275660 for more information.
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