IT WAS a break-in that threatened the future of a much-loved cafe and left a community disgusted.
Mums, their young children, dog walkers and teenagers were all shocked and angry to discover that the Parklife cafe in Shirley had been raided by thieves who smashed their way inside.
The cafe was forced to close for two days as a clean-up got under way, losing £1,000 in takings, on top of the thousands of pounds worth of damage and items stolen.
But the community has turned its anger into something positive, pulling together to raise money to ensure that the cafe can stay open and boost its security to prevent it being targeted again.
Within just a few hours the £500 target was smashed and by the end of the day it had already been doubled, with donations still flooding in from those determined not to let the thieves win.
Mum-of-two Jo Craig, from Shirley, set up the Just Giving website after having a conversation with a couple of other mums in the St James Park cafe.
Knowing how many people love and use the park every day, the 37-year-old decided something needed to be done to ensure the community doesn’t lose out but she never imagined how successful it would be.
She said: “The cafe is such a brilliant community asset that is used by so many people every day.
“To have something like this happen to it which could potentially see it close in the winter is awful, so we wanted to do something positive.
“I have been amazed by the response. It is unbelievable how many people have donated and I just hope that continues.”
As previously reported, the cafe was burgled overnight on Sunday, with thieves smashing one of the large glass walls and jumping over the counter, stealing the empty till, a laptop and filling a bin with snacks and drinks.
They then ransacked the building, stealing whatever they could find, and nearly £100 in charity money.
The money raised through the website, as well as donations coming in from the community, including Shirley Infant School which is hosting a lollipop sale on Tuesday, will be used to help boost security, with better CCTV cameras and alarms.
A music festival is also being planned for August, with groups and bands offering to play free of charge.
Manager Paul Salmon said: “I am amazed and shocked by the generosity of people. We knew people wanted to help but we never expected they would to this extent.
“It is great that something good can come out of something so bad. When things like this happen it just shows that the community really does pull together.”
To make a donation visit justgiving.com/yimby.
Anyone with information about the break-in can call PC Ben Hitchens at Shirley police station on 101.