Belfast charity's 'disappointment' after second burglary in a year
A charity has spoken of its "disappointment" after thieves targeted its premises for the second time in a year.
Overnight on Thursday, the Refresh Cafe at the East Belfast Mission (EBM) on the Newtownards Road was broken into and cash raised to help the vulnerable was stolen.
The East Belfast Mission, which is run by the Methodist Church, provides support for the homeless, offers counselling sessions and helps people get into work.
Every weekday the Refresh Cafe also provides hot meals for more than 50 people in need in the east Belfast community.
This is the second time the EBM has been targeted in the last 12 months. In April last year, a safe containing takings and volunteer's tips was stolen in an overnight break-in.
Mission superintendent at the charity, Reverend Brian Anderson, said the thieves were "stealing from the east Belfast community".
"This is the second time this has happened and it has been done in an almost identical way, even though we beefed up our security since the last incident," he said.
"Our reaction here is one of disappointment, because this is a community café, so every penny we raise here goes right back to the community - it's not for profit.
"That's the ironic thing, whoever these people are or wherever they are from - they are stealing from the east Belfast community."
Ulster Unionist representative George Doherty condemned those behind a break-in.
"It is an absolute disgrace that anyone should target an organisation like the East Belfast Mission, which exists to help vulnerable people," he said.
"What makes it even worse, is that this is the second time that the EBM has been targeted in such a despicable way, because a safe was stolen in a similar incident last April.
"EBM is an organisation that I know from first-hand experience goes above and beyond to assist those in need. They have done so for a number of constituents that I have referred to them recently.
"The people responsible for this need to be taken off the streets."
PSNI inspector David Gibson said: "It was reported that sometime between 11.00pm on Thursday, January 17 and 6.50am Friday, January 18, entry was gained to the premises and a sum of cash was stolen.
“Anyone with any information about this incident is asked to contact officers at Strandtown on 101 quoting reference number 133 18/01/19."
"Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime."
Belfast Telegraph Digital