Keith Whalan inspects the damage trail left by heartless vandals.
Keith Whalan inspects the damage trail left by heartless vandals. The Coffs Coast Advocate

Hoons hit local op shop

HEARTLESS vandals have left a Coffs Harbour charity shop with a huge bill after smashing their way into the premises over the weekend.

Keith Whalan, the Coffs Harbour president of the Royal Far West Children's Health Scheme opportunity shop, was gobsmacked when he saw big holes smashed in the back wall of the Murdock Street premises, and says it will cost hundreds of dollars to clean up the mess.

Mr Whalan said he believed intruders had tried their best to break in, but when they were foiled, they focused on another target.

After discovering the botched first attempt, he then wandered down the backyard and discovered two gaping holes in the side of the storage shed.

This time, they managed to crawl through and stole tools such as chisels and hammers along with pens, masking tape and even soap.

They also grabbed blackboard paint and splashed it over a door, while broken glass strewn across the floor indicated they'd also smashed a light.

Keith immediately phoned police, and he hopes they will be able to catch the culprits, whose senselessness will cost an estimated $600 to fix.

"It's absolutely disgusting," Keith said.

"We're a charity trying to do things for people."

The opportunity shop raises money so the Royal Far West Children's Health Scheme can send sick country kids to Sydney for specialist medical treatment. As many as 40 children from the Coffs Harbour area use this service each year.

But obviously, that doesn't matter to some. Only two weeks ago, vandals busted two locks on the shed.

"They were just being smart so we couldn't get in," Keith said.

Last year, heartless thieves smashed a window so they could sneak into the store, and they fled with $88 from the safe.

They also stole keys to the building, which meant the op shop had to spend $700 changing the locks.

And quite regularly, particularly after weekends, the elderly volunteers who give up their time to keep the shop running will find hoodlums have trashed clothes and other gear dropped off by well-meaning citizens.

That's not all, though - volunteers also have to contend with shoplifters who target the store.

"You can't believe what people are like," Keith said.

If you saw suspicious activity in Murdock Street between 4.30pm on Friday and 8am yesterday, contact Coffs Harbour police on 6652 0299.


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