A mobile phone shop boss says he was left “absolutely sickened” after thieves snatched up to £2,500 worth of goods during a smash-and-grab raid at his Hawick High Street outlet.
It was the third such raid to hit the High Street in a matter of weeks.
Last week, the Hawick News reported how burglars had stolen clothes and a television from the Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland charity shop and community hub.
The break-in happened ahead of the official opening of the premises next week and left staff devastated.
Two weeks earlier, thieves stole collection boxes, clothing and even milk from a fridge in a raid at Capability Scotland, a charity shop raising funds for disabled children.
Then, in the early hours of last Friday, at around 2.30am, raiders smashed the door at the Fonehouse premises and made off with four mobile phone handsets and accessories from a glass display cabinet.
That came as a hammer blow to shop owner Gary Souden as he only moved into the premises a few weeks ago.
Mr Souden, an independent retailer, now faces footing a bill estimated to be as high as £2,500.
Today, he issued a plea to members of the public offered any of the handsets, including an iPhone 7 and a Samsung Galaxy X5, to get in touch with him or the police.
Despite that setback, Mr Souden still had high praise for the people of Hawick and the support they have given him and his staff before and since the raid.
He said: “It all probably happened in 70 seconds and yet it’s left me with a big hole in our finances. It’s absolutely sickening. I’m really sore about this at the moment, but I haven’t lost my faith in Hawick or the people of Hawick. “There are so many lovely people in this town. There was one lady who gave us a £20 food voucher. It was her way of helping and offering us support. It shows the great spirit that there is in this town.
“There are perhaps 15,000 people in Hawick, and it only takes four or five to ruin it for the others.
“I heard that in a charity shop raid in the High Street, they even took milk from the fridge. What kind of people would do that to a charity?”
Mr Souden said he had passed on information regarding the raid to the police, but a full investigation wasn’t able to be launched immediately.
He said: “I’ve passed on what I know to the police, and let’s see what they can do. They were too busy investigating a violent crime in Hawick last Thursday to prioritise our raid.
“I can understand that resources are stretched, but it was frustrating.
“These phones will be sold around town and find their way onto eBay, and I’d appeal for the public’s help.”
Hawick and Hermitage councillor Watson McAteer, a retired senior police officer, also expressed his frustration at the delay that hit the launch of an investigation.
Mr McAteer believes the people responsible for Friday’s raid have targeted the High Street before, saying: “I am very concerned at this latest crime and the obvious link between the previous High Street incidents.
“There appears to be a small but persistent group of offenders who care little for our community, and the quicker they are brought to justice the better.
“I have visited the Fonehouse shop and spoken to Mr Souden, who is justifiably concerned at the worrying police explanation for their inability to prioritise the investigation of this crime.
“I have raised my concerns with the local police commander and have sought an explanation regarding the viability of the High Street CCTV system.”
Inspector Carol Wood, of Hawick police station, said: “We are investigating a break-in at a phone shop in Hawick High Street at around 2am on Friday, July 7. Officers are actively pursuing a number of lines of inquiry to identify those responsible.
“Anyone with information is asked to contact us on 101.”