THIEVES broke into a youth charity on Canvey and stole money intended for a fundraising event.

Volunteers at the Canvey Youth Project are distraught after burglars ransacked the charity’s headquarters, next to St Nicholas Church in Long Road, over the weekend.

The crooks forced their way through a side window after failing to rip open the main door.

They then stole food which had been set aside for struggling families, a phone and around £90 which was for tickets to a charity dinner the youth project was organising next week.

Now volunteers are having to quickly raise the money for the dinner in the next seven days so it can still go ahead.

They are also considering beefing up security in bid to stop it happening again.

Bernie Saxby, from the youth project, said: “It’s a bit of a shock to be honest because most people around here know who we are and what we do.

“It’s really below the belt for someone to do this, particularly as we are here to help people, so it hurts a lot.

“The money was hidden in an envelope at the back of a filing cabinet so they knew what they were looking for. We have been struggling to stay open the past few years so this is not going to help.

“We’ve now got to replace the glass and will have to think about improving security.

“If anyone could donate money to help us it would be really appreciated.”

The break-in happened between midnight on Sunday March 9 and 9am the following morning.

An Essex Police spokesman said: “Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding a burglary on Canvey. Thieves forced their way into the Canvey Island Youth Project in Long Road and stole a mobile phone and a two-figure sum of cash.

Anyone with information should contact investigating offices at Rayleigh police station on 101.”