AN animal rescue centre was targeted by a thief who stole wheels from a charity van and damaged the premises.

The Tyneside Cats Protection Adoption Centre, on Green Lane, Gateshead, was burgled in the early hours of Monday.

The man, who wore a bandana to hide his identity, broke in to the gated and locked site, winching up the Luton box van and stealing the rear wheels.

Fortunately, no access was gained to the buildings and all the cats in care were unharmed.

Six CCTV cameras on the outside of the building were pulled down and taken– with the cost of replacing them put at nearly £1,500– but other cameras did capture the incident in progress.

The van, clearly adorned with the charity’s logo, is stored on site and used to collect and transport donated goods to its charity stores to raise funds towards vital cat welfare work.

Centre Manager Emzi Frater said: “It is heartbreaking to think that someone would break in and steal and damage property of a charity that is there to protect the welfare of cats. The cats are our main priority and when something like this happens, it means less of our resources can be dedicated to them.”

Northumbria Police is investigating and asked anyone with information, or who recognises the individual on the CCTV, to call 101 quoting reference 322 200519 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800-555111.