Riverside Bargains move into the shop in 2016. Thieves removed money from the story on Wednesday night.
Riverside Bargains move into the shop in 2016. Thieves removed money from the story on Wednesday night.

INSIDE JOB: Op shop thieves ‘knew where money was kept’

THIEVES who have robbed a church-run op shop twice in two months could have inside knowledge says the store manager.

The manager of the Riverside Bargain Centre in Fitzroy St, Grafton, Martin Lucas, said the evidence from the most recent robbery on Wednesday night indicated the robbers knew the shop layout intimately.

"They knew exactly where to go," he said. "The room where we kept the money is in an obscure part of the building, but they knew to go straight there and where the money was kept."

Mr Lucas believes the same people could even be involved in both break-ins.

"There was only one door that didn't have the lock replaced the last time, and they came in there. They might even have kept a key," he said.

Mr Lucas said the amount of money involved was not huge, about $3000, but the damage bill to the building came to about the same amount and there was the inconvenience of changing locks and making repairs.

"We've had security camera enclosures taken, sensors smashed so the thieves can protect their identities," Mr Lucas said.

Mr Lucas suspects the people involved could be convicted criminals taking advantage of the store's policy to allow people on community services orders to serve time in the store.

"We've had a couple of people disappoint us recently," he said. "One person reoffended and another had disappeared.

"We treat them like employees. They come in, work, have morning tea with us, complete tasks given to them and sign off at the end of the day.

"We like to think they're getting some skills they might not receive if they were doing some other kinds of work.

"But some people have a total disregard for people and the opportunities they provide for them."

He said children or small people were like to have been responsible for both robberies.

"Where they got in, you would need to be small and very agile," he said.

But he said the building, which was a former used car yard, was hard to keep tightly secured.

"It's like a big chicken coop and it's hard to keep rats out of a chicken coop," Mr Lucas said.

Grafton Police have confirmed the robbery and were continuing inquiries. Anyone with information should contact the police on 6642 0222.



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