VOLUNTEERS at a charity shop were left heartbroken after burglars smashed their way in and stole cash.

The St Helena Hospice shop in Tiptree was targeted on Thursday night.

Burglars stole hundreds of pounds from a safe and caused damage to the shop, which raises funds for people facing incurable illness.

The burglars forced their way through the back door with a crowbar.

The shop manager discovered the damage at the store in The Centre the following morning.

Ian Daniels, head of retail at St Helena Hospice, said: “This theft has caused great heartache to our community, along with a large bill for the repairs that will be needed – money that would have been spent on supporting our patients and their families.

“It costs millions of pounds every year to run St Helena Hospice and only a third of that comes from the NHS, the rest comes from our community, for example from donations, playing the lottery and of course shopping in and donating items to our shops.

“We’d like to thank our hardworking staff and volunteers who despite the shock and upset of this incident have managed to open the shop as normal.”

This is the latest in a spell of break-ins on The Parade in two weeks.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “We are investigating following reports of a burglary at St Helena Hospice in The Centre, Tiptree.

“A safe, which contained a three-figure sum of cash, was taken.

“It is believed to have occurred between 5pm on Thursday and 8.45am on Friday.

“Anyone with information is asked to call us on 101 quoting reference 42/97310/19.”