Thieves have targeted a new charity shop and community hub in Hawick before it has even opened its doors.
Intruders caused havoc after breaking into the new Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland (CHSS) shop in High Street during the early hours of Wednesday, stealing clothes and removing a television from a wall.
Hawick and Denholm councillor Clair Ramage accused the thieves of “plumbing new depths”.
Staff and volunteers preparing for the official opening of the outlet in the old Store Twenty One premises on Friday, July 21, are still assessing the extent of the damage done.
After this week’s raid, CHSS chief executive John Wilson and director of retail Jay Hogarty travelled from its headquarters in Edinburgh to offer support to staff.
Jay said: “We are so disappointed to have been targeted by thieves. We have had such a warm welcome from everyone in Hawick and our community hub seems to have been very well received locally.
“It is terrible that thieves would break into a charity shop, especially one that is not only a retail space but also a community hub venture that will give something back to the community by offering opportunities to local contacts in the Borders, seeking to bring support closer to the communities we serve.”
Not only will the new hub house a charity shop selling clothes and other goods, but it will also provide townsfolk with a community meeting room, advice sessions and access to free wi-fi.
Police are investigating the raid and are appealing to any witnesses who saw the intruders gaining access through a back door to call them on 101.
Despite that setback, this month’s opening will go ahead as originally planned.
It will be attended by people suffering from chest, heart and stroke conditions, plus Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP Rachael Hamilton and Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP John Lamont.
Hawick councillors Stuart Marshall and Ms Ramage will also be in attendance, and the latter added: “There are many positive projects happening in the town just now, and yet we seem to have a minority that are intent on vandalism or theft, if indeed this was a local crime.
“Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland has decided to take a bigger unit than it would normally choose to enable it to offer a space to open a community hub alongside the shop.
“To steal from a charity keen to include the community in a new venture is plumbing new depths.”