Thieves can’t make us close

The aftermath of the theft

The aftermath of the theft

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THIEVES smashed through a concrete safe and made off with a four-figure sum of cash in a daring midnight raid.

The incident at Bonnybridge Social Club in the early hours of Tuesday morning has left staff and members devastated – but they have vowed to keep the much-loved community facility open.

They were so determined not to let the callous crooks disrupt their routine that the club was open for business as normal just hours after the break-in took place.

“We won’t let them beat us,” said bar steward Joyce McAuslan. “Thieves tried to get in six weeks ago and that was after we had been robbed in March.

“But they won’t win. We’re open for business and will still be having all our regular events.

“We want everyone to know that this club is carrying on as normal.”

Staff had left the venue securely locked late on Monday evening. When bar steward Marian Maddison returned the following morning she knew instantly that something was wrong.

“The alarm was ringing, and I could see damage,’’ she said. ‘‘I immediately phoned Joyce. There was no way I was going in by myself.”

The pair were stunned by what they found inside.

A fruit machine and cigarette vending machine had both been ripped open – but the most shocking discovery was the safe, used to store the club’s takings and collections.

Despite being five feet tall and concrete lined, it had been toppled over and a large rectangular section cut out.

Joyce said: “I couldn’t believe they managed to get through it. They must have used professional cutting equipment.

“We’ve been counting up how much is missing – but we’ve lost at least a weekend’s takings as well as a members’ collection for a planned trip to Hamilton races.”

The club, in Bonnybridge Main Street, has been open for more than 40 years and regularly hosts a wide range of community functions.

Staff had spent hours on Monday preparing a special steak pie dinner for a group of local pensioners, who had decided to forgo their usual summer trip away in order to support the club.

But the meal was cancelled as staff had to instead spend the afternoon clearing away the mess the robbers had left.

Joyce added: “Our older members have been brilliant, they’ve rallied round us and have done their best to support the club. It’s them I feel sorry for.”

The club has been repeatedly targeted by thieves and vandals despite investing thousands of pounds on a six-camera CCTV system.

A spokesperson for Central Scotland Police appealed for anyone who may have seen or heard anything suspicious in the vicinity of the social club between 10 p.m. on Monday, August 1, and 11 a.m. on Tuesday, August 2 to contact them.

Anyone with information should call police on (01786) 456000 or details can be given anonymously by contacting Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

nBonnybridge Social Club has two major events planned for the coming weeks. On Sunday, August 21, a pro-wrestling showcase will take place.

On Friday, August 26, darts legends including Eric Bristow, Bobby George and Bob Anderson will take part in an exhibition match. Tickets for both events are available in advance from the venue.