Burglary leaves lunch club under threat

Sidmouth Voluntary Services' home at Twyford House

Sidmouth Voluntary Services' home at Twyford House - Credit: Archant

A Sid Valley charity could be forced to stop a popular service for elderly and disabled residents after burglars stole more than £1,000 from its HQ.

Twyford House, home of Sidmouth Voluntary Services (SVS) and venue for the group’s lunch club, was broken into in October.

And now organisers say that the theft and clean-up cost has been a huge blow to their hopes of buying a new cooker.

Thieves carefully entered the premises in Coburg Road, causing a minimum of damage before clearing out the building’s safe - which contained much of the charity’s reserve cash.

SVS is faced with finding £4,000 to replace its ageing cooker and would have used the stolen funds - and £500 spent repairing a smashed window - to help cover the cost.

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The cooker is vital to keeping the lunch club, which is enjoyed by around 45 people each day, running.

SVS chairman of trustees Philip Deegan is appealing for support in covering the cost.

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“We have just had one bill after another this year,” he said. “Where are we going to get the money for this now? The lunch club has become very popular recently. We can still use [the cooker], but it needs replacing in the next three or four weeks. After that, we would have to stop the lunch club until we can fix it.”

Mr Deegan said SVS had only recently been able to determine how much was stolen during the burglary, which is believed to have happened on October 30.

Broken glass was discovered the next day by the cleaner, but the burglars had been so careful that the volunteers did not immediately realise there had been a theft.

The culprits had reached in to grab some keys posted through by a volunteer before gaining access and making for the safe.

The combination had not been changed in some time, said Mr Deegan.

He has been left fearing that burglars are targeting town charities as, a month later, the Sid Valley Food Bank lost more than £100 when the Unitarian Church was broken into.

Both good causes have since reviewed their security procedures.

“We’ve never had anything like this in 53 years,” said Mr Deeegan.

“We got lulled into a false sense of security.

“When I found out the food bank had been broken into, I thought someone was going round taking charities to the cleaners.”

SVS has already had to replace three roofs and two boilers this year, so Mr Deegan is reaching out to residents to show their support.

The charity can be contacted on 01395 515063.

Anyone with information about the burglary is asked to call the police on 101 and quote crime reference CR/075477/15.

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