Thieves fill wheelie bin with 150 Christmas donations to vulnerable people in Lincoln
Callous thieves stole 150 donated Christmas gifts destined for vulnerable people during a break-in at a community centre in Lincoln.
Intruders ransacked Croft Street Community Centre after smashing open a back door.
Once inside, they filled a litter bin with loot which they emptied into a brown wheelie bin before fleeing into the night. A laptop computer was stolen from the manager's office downstairs and £14 in cash was taken.
The resident cat's cushion was used as protection when raiders smashed through the door to the Volunteer and Contact Association's office on the first floor.
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Christmas presents donated to the charity by supporters including Women's Institutes and the RAF, destined for people with mental illness and those in hospitals and in hospices, were snatched from the office.
Volunteer John Hibbert said: "I was in total shock to discover that our office had been broken into.
"You do not expect people to break into a church community hall.
"The centre is here to do good – it's part of the community.
"This year the RAF gave over £300 worth of presents.
"What we've lost is about 150 boxes of chocolates, toiletries, perfume and games all wrapped up.
"Some were still to be distributed and we were going to store others for next Christmas."
Centre manager Caroline Boltz discovered the break-in at 8am on Tuesday, January 8.
"I came in to open up and saw the place had been broken into," she said. I ran out because I was terrified they were still in here. I realised something was wrong because the resident rat catcher's cushion was in the wrong place.
"It's normally in the boiler room but the cushion was upstairs – I think they must have used that when they broke the glass window in the door to the charity's office."
The community centre, which is home to about 20 groups and societies, was due to reopen on Wednesday after security was beefed up and the debris from the raid cleared up.
Lincolnshire Police spokesman James Newall said: "This was a despicable burglary on a centre which is at the heart of the community. Anyone with information should call police on the non-emergency number 101."