A CHARITY bike shop has been targeted by thieves for the second time in a matter of weeks.

Last Saturday Bike Stop, on Skinnergate, Darlington, County Durham, was forced to close after its front-door window was smashed and two bikes taken.

This is the second break-in the store has faced in five weeks and staff have are devastated.

Rob Archer, the shop's manager, said the impact has been huge on the charity.

He said: “We discovered it Saturday morning when we came to open up. The front-door window was caved out, there was glass all over the shop and outside of it.

“We knew when we discovered it that there’d been someone inside. We’re quite au fait with what bikes we have at any one time so I could see straight away at least two had been taken. It turned out these were the only two that were taken but they also happened to be the most expensive.

“We had most of our indoor mechanics and a retail assistant in with it being Saturday and we were closed all day. It’s our busiest day so we lost a whole day of trade.

"We were unable to do anything other than try to undo the damage that had been done."

The store, whose parent charity is homeless charity First Stop, specialises in repairing old bicycles and takes donated pre-loved bikes to be upgraded and sold on to new owners.

The Northern Echo:

The missing bicycles, a green Forme Longcliffe 2.0 road bike and a grey Forme Peak trail bike, were delivered to the store just two days prior and are estimated to be worth £1,100 in retail - the same price as the shop's current cost of repairs.

The Northern Echo:

Mr Archer added: “The financial loss is one aspect of it. It deflects all the hard work that everybody here does. I have done nothing but deal with this break-in since Saturday, so I have achieved nothing else for the shop.

“It’s more the impact it’s had on the shop and it's more what the public can do. We have had a positive response so far, everybody has sent their sympathies and their disgust at the fact that they had chosen us to come to.

"The bikes are still at large and we have both pictured on our Facebook page. We need the public's help, whether that's in the search for the bikes or donations of bikes, parts, accessories or cash. It’s all beneficial to us."

Bike Stop are urging the public to share their search appeal on social media and to report any sightings, or potential sale offers of the bicycles, to police.

A spokesperson from Durham Constabulary said: "We are investigating a burglary that happened overnight between February 8 and February 9 at a premises on Skinnergate, in Darlington.

"A suspect gained entry through the back gate of the shop and once inside removed a bike before making off onto Bondgate.

"They then returned around two hours later and took a second bike from the store.

"A 37-year-old man has been charged with burglary in connection with the incident. He is due to appear at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates court on February 26."