Business owners in Accrington are reeling after a series of break-ins in the town centre.
Thieves have targeted seven premises in the town’s shopping district since the beginning of the year.
In one of the latest incidents, a safe was stolen from Eafield and Maple estate and letting agents, on Blackburn Road.
And cold-hearted burglars also took around 1,000 food items collected for the homeless as well as a CD player after breaking into St James Church in Accrington town centre.
Paul Brown, owner of Eafield and Maple, is offering a £1,000 reward to anyone who can help catch the culprit.
He said: “The fact they are getting away with this is really riling me.
“The police are under-resourced and we have no active CCTV in the town. Its frustrating, I’d love to see them caught and I’m offering £1,000 reward for any information leading to their conviction. It will be money well spent.”
It comes as Kristopher John Murphy, 29, is awaiting sentence after pleading guilty to five unrelated burglaries and seven counts of theft. Murphy, of no fixed abode, was denied bail at Preston Magistrates’ Court and will be sentenced on January 30 at Preston Crown Court.
Tracy Glegg, who owns the Hairs and Faces salon on Bank Street, had £50 in staff tips stolen by Murphy and around £100 of damage was caused to her shop when Murphy broke in after it had closed.
She said: “Our customers are horrified, they’ve been hugging us when they’ve been coming in.
“Everyone is so mad, that someone could come in here and take the staff tips. This isn’t the first time, someone tried to break in here on Christmas Day, in the evening.”
Tracy says she has spoken to nearby business owners and she says everybody is concerned as they don’t believe there is a strong enough police presence.
Murphy pleaded guilty to further break-ins at the RDA Trading furniture shop on Oak Street, Pure Perfection on Warner Street and at Fitz’s Hair and Beauty on nearby Abbey Street.
Boutique 23, on Warner Street, also had £40 in cash stolen by Murphy, and almost £1,000 of damage was caused as a result.
Carla Chatburn, owner of Pure Perfection, said Murphy stole £40 from them after breaking in and causing around £800 of damage.
She said the council could do more to support business owners.
She said: “I think they should have CCTV with 24-hour monitoring and more police. We’re all private businesses, we make our shop fronts look immaculate and we look after each other.”
Carla says she is also concerned about the safety of her staff, who sometimes leave work after dark.
She says she has one of her colleague’s partners meet them at the door to make sure they are safe.
Lancashire police say they appreciate the concerns of local business and continue to take action against those responsible.
Neighbourhood Inspector for the Hyndburn area, Steve Rides, said: “Most recently, there was a spate of six burglaries at various local shops over a four-day period.
“Thankfully we were quickly able to identify and arrest a suspect who was subsequently charged with five of those offences, along with seven counts of shoplifting.
“We are still investigating the remaining burglary and are determined to find the person responsible.
“I would like to reassure those who live and work in Accrington that there continues to be a police presence in the town; our police station is based in the centre and we have great CCTV coverage which assists us in preventing and solving crimes.
“Any residents or shopkeepers with concerns can contact us directly at Accrington.email@example.com or in person at local PACT meetings.”
Hyndburn MP Graham Jones said: “These latest burglaries that are affecting hard-working businesses and those committing these crimes are simply workshy morons.”