Vandals have trashed a number of charity shops in a series of seemingly pre-planned break-ins.
Two War on Want shops and a further two charity shops have been burgled and vandalised in the past five days. A shop window in another charity shop was also smashed.
The vandals made off with relatively small amounts of cash, but caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to the premises.
The two War on Want shops will have to close as builders repair the damage, which includes
ripped-out ceilings, structural damage and roof damage. Clothes which were being sold to raise money for people in Africa were destroyed and cannot be used.
War on Want’s store in Ballynahinch was broken into in the early hours of Monday morning. Vandals smashed holes in the ceiling and rubbished the shop floor, causing £1,500 of damage before making off with £50 cash.
They then broke into two other charity shops in the town — one for the Simon Community and the other Marie Curie Cancer Care. A shop window in the Bangor store was also smashed, and will cost £300 to replace.
And in the early hours of Wednesday morning vandals again struck a War on Want shop, this time the charity’s flagship store on the Cregagh Road, Belfast. Here they broke in through the roof, leaving the suspended ceiling hanging off its supports, and cutting electrical lines.
The damage they caused is thought to run to around £7,000.
Police are thought to believe it was the work of professionals.
Jackie Trainor, head of fundraising at War on Want, said it was “wanton destruction”.
“We have all taken this so personally,” she said. “The staff and volunteers work so hard and give up so much of their time.”
She appealed to people to help the charity replenish its stock.
Anyone wishing to make a donation can contact War on Want on 028 9023 2064 or visit 1 Rugby Avenue, Belfast.
War on Want is a Northern Ireland-based charity which aims to help poverty-stricken populations in Africa. It is working to provide funds, resources and skills training for the poor in Uganda, Malawi and Tanzania. The charity has 13 shops and the Belfast Telegraph is a media partner of War on Want.