A NON-LEAGUE football club has hit out at thieves who stole a “substantial amount” of cash and cheques.

Criminals broke through an outer skin then knocked through a brick wall at Heritage Park, the home of Bishop Auckland FC.

Once inside they stole a safe containing the money.

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The Northern League club believes the thieves lifted the safe in a wheelie bin to move it to their getaway vehicle, which was parked away from a main road.

The raid took place between 8pm on Sunday night and 7am on Monday morning after a busy weekend for the club.

Richard Tremewan, the club’s interim chairman, last night condemned the thieves.

He said: “They peeled back an outer skin then knocked a square hole in the brick wall into the cellar where the safe was kept.

“I can’t say how much it was but they took a substantial amount of money.

“We had just had more people in the club than we’d ever had and the money was from bar takings, season ticket sales and money from an event.

“They probably believe they are stealing from a business but we are a community facility and this was the fans’ money which they took."

Mr Tremewan said the club had reviewed and changed its security practices following the break-in.

“We are insured but this will push up our premiums,” he added.

“If you noticed anyone acting suspicious in the vicinity of the ground then your help would be greatly appreciated by the club.”

Police are currently reviewing footage from local CCTV cameras in the hope it will help identify the offenders.

Bishop Auckland share their ground with Darlington FC.

Despite concern among Quakers fans on-line, the club's chief executive Martin Jesper said Darlington had not lost any money in the raid.

Police are appealing for any witnesses or anyone with information to contact Bishop Auckland CID on 101 or call CrimeStoppers anonymously on 0800-555-111.