The manager of a Norwich charity shop has spoken of her disgust at burglars who broke in and stole £1,000 that would have paid for the welfare of hundreds of animals and birds.

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Maria Thornberg arrived at the Hallswood charity shop in Drayton Road, which raises money for Hallswood Animal Sanctuary at Stratton Strawless, at 8am on Monday to find the wooden back door had been kicked in and the cash stolen from a petty cash tin in the office. The burglars also stole a laptop.

She said the crime would hit the charity particularly hard at this time of year because the shop was set to close on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, meaning takings would be reduced, while the cost of winter food for the animals increases at this time of year.

She added: “It is disgusting. Some criminals do target charity shops because they can not afford expensive security systems and are just easy targets, but it is so sad that some people see it that way.”

She appealed to the public to help the charity get through the difficult Christmas period by donating through its website www.hallswood.co.uk.

Miss Thornberg added there was no CCTV or outdoor security light at the charity shop and while it did have insurance, it was not covered for the losses incurred during the burglary.

The broken rear door was replaced on Monday morning, but she was worried the burglars could strike again, adding residents living nearby were not aware of the incident.

A Norfolk police spokesman confirmed there had been a break-in at the shop between 4pm on Saturday and 8am on Monday, adding the burglars had broken in through a back door and taken a quantity of money from a cash tin as well as the laptop.

The sanctuary is home to domestic animals as well as horses, donkeys, goats and other wildlife.

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