COLD-HEARTED crooks grabbed a laptop and cash after smashing their way into a church bookshop in Clacton.
The raiders tried to break through the front door of the shop, which is part of Trinity Methodist Church, in Pier Avenue.
They eventually got in through a side window before taking money from the till and a laptop from an office.
Shocked staff found the mess on Monday morning.
Manager Liz Marshall said: “When we got here in the morning, the shatter-proof glass was all cracked and the door was ajar. We went inside and saw the till had been pulled out. We had to search around to find what was missing and damaged. It was a horrible experience.
“Having the bookshop here allows the church to be open to people during the week, which is a very important thing for the community.
“It is a small business, but an important one.
“Every pound is vital for us.
We are barely able to cover all the costs as it is without people doing things like this.
“It took us so long to afford the laptop. It is very upsetting.”
The church hosts a variety of groups, from art classes to karate sessions and youth clubs.
Staff made sure it was business as usual despite the burglary.
They patched up the broken glass and made them safe and opened up again after police had examined the scene.
Mrs Marshall added: “I suppose for the people who did this, their need must be greater than ours.
“It is upsetting, but we are just glad nobody was hurt. Things can be replaced.
“It is disheartening for something like this to happen when we are just trying to help.
“But people need support more than ever these days, and we will not let this stop us. We will carry on doing everything we can to help people.”
Staff are now talking to their insurance company to get the damage fixed and stolen items replaced.
Anyone with information on the burglary should call police on 101.