BURGLARS forced their way into an Oxford charity shop before helping themselves to its stock.

The thieves cost the Helen & Douglas House vintage shop in Summertown hundreds of pound in lost takings.

They took clothes, a basket and jewellery from the specialist shop in Banbury Road.

Although no money was stolen, staff were forced to shut for two days waiting for police to check the premises and to clear up and restock the shelves.

The charity’s head of retail, David Cryer, said: “We couldn’t believe it. It has caused a lot of distress for the staff and volunteers, especially the volunteers, who come in and spend their free time making the shop look nice and making it profitable.

“For them to come in and find this is incredibly disappointing.”

The shop opened in January, selling retro and vintage clothing and homewares.

All the profits go to the hospice in Magdalen Road, East Oxford, which provides care for children and young adults with life-shortening illnesses.

The burglars forced their way in through the shop’s back door some time between last Saturday evening and Tuesday morning.

Staff cannot be sure how many items were stolen, but said each piece in the shop’s stock was a “one-off”.

Mr Cryer added: “We lost two days of trading, which was potentially about £500 of turnover.

“That’s money that goes directly to the children Helen & Douglas House looks after and the support we give them.

“It’s just the principle of it really. Who breaks into a charity shop?”

Although insured for the damage to the door and shop fittings, the charity will not be compensated for the loss of income or stock.

No police officers were available to visit the shop until Wednesday, a day after the break-in was discovered.

Staff said recordings from a CCTV security system showed more than two people could have been involved in the break-in. Police were unable to confirm this.

Assistant manager Karen Thomas said: “These people don’t think the same as we do. By getting into the shop, they believe they have got these clothes for free. But they don’t think about the people who donated the clothes, who wanted the money to go to the children.”

She added: “The children this money helps are very sick and every penny counts.”

Thames Valley Police spokes-man Alice Adderley confirmed officers had visited the shop and said the delay was because there had been no police available initially.

Anyone with information about the burglary should call Oxford police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.