CHARITY shop raiders smashed their way into an Oxfam shop to steal donated stock and cash.

Despicable thieves broke through the glass front door at Oxfam. Southchurch Road grabbing what they can before fleeing.

CCTV footage showed a man and a woman breaking in and rummaging around the store and the back office at around 5.45am yesterday before making off with the donation box.

They also vandalised the shop’s till while trying to force it open.

A security guard from the Victoria Plaza shopping centre noticed on CCTV a man and a woman outside the store acting suspiciously and discovered the burglary when he went to investigate.

The shop was forced to close for the day whilst forensics officers worked to try and find evidence to help catch the culprits.

Manager Lauren Scotto, of Westcliff, said: “The security from the Victoria Plaza called me at 6am telling me to come to the shop as it had been burgled.

“When I arrived the whole window of the front door was smashed through with glass everywhere.

“They didn’t take much apart from the donation box, but they ransacked the place. Thankfully, a group of my volunteers have given up their time to come and help clear up the shop. People have been very supportive.

“We are losing a day’s trading which is on average £500-£600, which for us is a lot of money.

“It is very upsetting to think that people would break into a charity shop. It is going to be a long day for us getting things back to normal.”

Oxfam volunteers kindly gave up their own time to help clear up the mess which was left behind.

Photographs of the damage were also posted on Oxfam Southend’s Facebook page, notifying customers that the shop would be closed.

And what followed was as heartwarming as the initial act was distressing.

Donations began to come in with one person donation £250 and others bringing in replacement stock.

Ms Scotto said: “We really appreciate the generosity of our lovely customers and it restores my faith in humanity.”

Police are investigating.

Call 101 with any information about the raid.