AN autism charity has been left "reeling" after thieves staged a break in at one of its charity shops, making off with hundreds of pounds in cash.

Staff working at the Daisy Chain charity superstore on Portrack Lane in Stockton said it was only when they turned up for work on Thursday morning, that they discovered a burglary had taken place.

The store, which opened in 2014, was set up as a means to help Daisy Chain continue funding its support to families affected by autism across the Tees Valley.

On Friday, the Chief Executive of Daisy Chain condemned the burglary and described the despicable act as "heartbreaking".

Neeraj Sharma said: “It is extremely disheartening that thieves would target a family charity like Daisy Chain and steal cash that has been raised by selling donated items at our Superstore.

“All the money we raise goes to supporting families affected by autism across the Tees Valley and to ensure that Daisy Chain can continue to offer a safe haven and support services to these families.”

The charity said the cash had been taken from the safe, which was the only cash on the premises at the time.

Throughout Thursday the store remained closed, but re-opened to customers on Friday morning.

Last December, a stolen JCB digger was used to ram-raid into the B&M store on Portrack Lane resulting in the loss of a large amount of cash from a store safe.

Earlier this year in October, thieves attempted to break into a Greggs store on the retail park after "smashing their way" into a side wall to gain access to the premises. 

Anyone with information which could help with police enquiries is asked to contact Cleveland Police on the non-emergency number 101.