Burglar steals from terminally ill in Ottery St Mary charity shop break-in

Manager of Ottery Hospiscare Claire Soper (centre) with volunteers Margo Skull and Mary-Ann Strickla

Manager of Ottery Hospiscare Claire Soper (centre) with volunteers Margo Skull and Mary-Ann Strickland. Refsho 02-16TI 9340. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Police appeal to catch criminal who stole £600 from Hospiscare

Ottery’s community has reacted with disgust after a thief broke into a charity shop and stole £600 that would have gone to help terminally ill people.

A burglar broke through a padlocked gate and forced the back door to gain entry into Hospiscare, in Broad Street, last weekend. They stole the safe and its contents.

The safe was later found abandoned on nearby farmland and police are appealing for information.

Shop manager Claire Soper (pictured, centre, with volunteers Margo Skull and Mary-Ann Strickland) discovered the break-in last Monday morning (January 11) and said customers and traders have rallied to help. She expressed sadness that a criminal could stoop so low and added: “Ottery is such a strong community - everybody is up in arms about this. People are so upset that burglars would steal from a charity shop and they’ve been asking ‘how low can you go?’. The burglars didn’t steal from us, they stole from our patients. Our customers and fellow traders have been absolutely marvellous and very supportive since the break-in. Customers have been coming in to ask if I was alright and my neighbouring traders made sure I had lunch as I could not leave the shop as I waited for police forensics.”

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Hospiscare is an Exeter-based charity that provides end-of-life support to more than 2,000 people and their loved-ones.

A spokesperson for the charity said the £600 could have paid for 21 hour-long visits from a community nurse, a 24-hour stay for someone in the in-patient unit, or 12 complementary therapy sessions to relieve stress, pain and anxiety.

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Sergeant Chris Leisk, of Ottery’s neighbourhood policing team, said officers are focusing investigations in the town and around surrounding farmland where the safe was dumped. The incident happened between 5.25pm on Saturday, January 9, and 9am on Monday, January 11. Anyone with information is urged to call police on 101. Crime reference: CR/2103 /16.

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