FRUSTRATED townsfolk have expressed their sympathies with shop staff after a convenience store was burgled for the third time in a month overnight.

The Co-operative, in Sedgefield, has been targeted by burglars on October 22, November 10 and now, today, each time causing delays in opening as staff clean up and police crime scene investigators look for forensic clues to try to catch the perpetrators.

A sign in the window of the Front Street premises simply read: “Due to a break-in overnight we will be unable to open at our normal time, at 7am today whilst we wait for crime scene investigation and repairs to the store.

“We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause and aim to be back up and running as soon as possible.”

No-one from the store was able to comment, referring inquiries to the Co-operative head office in Manchester.

But, in a posting to the Sedgefield, Fishburn, Mordon, Bradbury and Thorpe Larches Voice social media site, Lakota Penny, of the store, said: “I’m sorry to say that we’ve had another break-in at Sedgefield Co-op.

“We won’t be open to trade from 7am but shouldn’t take as long this time to get up and running again.

“We apologise profusely. I know this is far from ideal, but I promise you that we’re doing all we can.”

In response townsfolk sympathised with the plight of the staff and agreed that it may be time to mount protective shutters, which are not permitted in a conservation area.

One nearby resident, Kate Stanley, summed up the local feeling: “Residents are understandably angry and concerned.

“The Co-op staff are incredibly disappointed.

“This is the third time the store hasn’t been able to open to the public on a morning following a break in.”

She agreed that it may be time for a reconsideration of barriers to adding security shutters, despite the wish of authorities to maintain the aesthetics of the conservation area.

No-one from the Co-operative head office, in Manchester, or Durham Police was able to respond to inquiries by The Northern Echo on Saturday.