Heartless thieves broke into a well-supported charity shop - one of three businesses targeted by crooks over the weekend.
The callous crooks smashed their way into the premises run by the British Heart Foundation in Falkirk High Street in the early hours of Sunday and stole the office safe containing cash and a ring thought to be worth at least £400.
Shocked volunteer Neilson Nenphan discovered the charity had been robbed when he arrived just before noon on Sunday to open for business.
Today manager Geraldine Hayes said she and her colleagues were still trying to come to terms with events.
She said: “This is just a terrible thing to have happened. How can people be so cruel and heartless?
“We closed up at around 5.30 p.m. on Saturday as usual and the float of about £80 and the ring, which had been generously donated and which we were intending to have valued this week, were placed in the safe for security purposes.
“Neilson arrived in good time for opening on Sunday afternoon and when he went upstairs to turn on the lights realised we had been broken into and the safe in the office downstairs was gone.
“Nothing else had been taken, all the stock was in place, but he had to call our assistant manager Yvonne Logan. She called the police and obviously we were not able to open.
“What has happened is more than disappointing and left all the staff shocked. We are all wondering what is going on today when somebody decides to break in and steal from a charity.
“The police fingerprinted everything and while we always hope the money and the ring will be recovered, realistically we are not holding out much hope.
“They smashed two fire doors before they got in and since then we have had the expense of bringing in a joiner to replace them. Head office will also have to find the funds to replace the safe and I had to depend on our volunteers dipping into their own pockets to provide enough cash for the float just so that we could re-open on Monday.
“Customers can hardly believe what has happened. They are all as shocked as us and been very sympathetic.”
Geraldine revealed this is the second time the shop, which has been operating in the High Street for the last 17 years, has been broken into – the last time was 2013.
Police Scotland confirmed that, as well as the British Heart Foundation shop, two other commercial premises in the area of Falkirk High Street were also broken into.
It has been confirmed Thorntons next door to the BHF premises was a target. Thieves made their way into the second floor of the building after forcing a fire escape door at the rear, but left empty handed.
It is also understood family firm Mathiesons the Bakers was entered illegally.