THIEVES smashed their way into a hardware shop and stole £4,000 in cash as well as thousands of pounds in stock and a number of charity tins.

Jumbo Fixings, in London Road, Leigh, was targeted overnight between Monday and Tuesday.

Owner Mick Bullock said the raiders used crow bars to force their way into the store before making off with the haul in wheelbarrows.

He said: “I went into work the next day to find a lot of stock was missing.

“I went to the back of the shop and saw the doors had been crow-barred open.

“We are still trying to work out exactly what was taken but it was a dramatic amount of stock.

“It includes power tools, hand tools and specialist plastering equipment; the list goes on.

“We think there was about £4,000 in the safe when they took it, it was just over a week’s takings. I had been off work so had not sorted out the money.”

He added: “People do this and we have to face the consequences of their actions.

“I was surprised when I arrived at the shop. I had to double take.

“I wasn’t sure if I had just moved the stock but then realised it had been stolen.

“They took four wheelbarrows and used them to carrying the tools and stock they stole.

“I am waiting to see if any nearby businesses have got any CCTV of the incident.

“I am hoping that our insurance will cover us. We are already taking action to stop it happening again.

“We’ve had new shutters installed to stop people getting in like this.”

Mr Bullock said he is looking at it from a “matter of fact point of view”.

He said it’s only money and nobody was hurt during the break-in.

He said the most annoying thing is that charity tins were taken.

The businessman added: “It doesn’t make a difference that there was nobody in the store at the time.

“In fact I wish there had been, they would have got a hammer around their head if we had been there.

“It is not going to shut us down and I won’t let them beat me.

“I’m not one for getting upset or wearing my heart on my sleeve.”

Anyone with information on the road should contact Essex Police on 101.