People’s supermarket raid hits good causes

thisisoxfordshire: People’s Supermarket manager Chris Waites outside the Cowley Road store Picture: OX54125 Richard Cave Buy this photo » People’s Supermarket manager Chris Waites outside the Cowley Road store Picture: OX54125 Richard Cave

GOOD causes will miss out after thieves stole a safe containing £2,500 from the People’s Supermarket in Cowley Road.

Burglars climbed over a wall at the back of the supermarket, which is run by volunteers, and then ripped the safe from shelves in an office.

Manager Chris Waites is now offering a £1,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the thieves.

The People’s Supermarket only opened in Oxford in July, and as a not-for-profit organisation provides money to help local groups. Mr Waites, 25, from Long Wittenham near Didcot, said: “The thieves climbed over a locked gate to get into our office on Monday afternoon.

“Our van was parked in a loading bay in Cowley Road and I went to move it about 1.50pm.

“I was only gone for a short time, about 10 minutes, and unfortunately I had left the office unlocked.

“Shortly afterwards I realised that someone had come in and taken the safe, which is black, about 1ft tall and has a digital combination lock, so it will be hard to get into.

“When I realised the safe had been stolen I felt shocked and angry.

“There are 330 members who own the supermarket and give their time to volunteer in the store and I know they will be upset by this.

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“We were going to set up some computers for people to use the internet at the store but now we are going to have to put that plan on hold.

“As a non-profit supermarket this is particularly upsetting as any money stolen from us is effectively money stolen from Oxford – all our profits are reinvested into the community. Because of this we’re really keen to catch whoever did this and bring them to justice.

“Money we make goes to local good causes including the Cowley Road Carnival .

“We will have to learn lessons from this look at improving security.”

The supermarket sells locally-produced food, and in return for a 20 per cent discount on their shopping, members pay £12 a year and volunteer in the shop for four hours a month.

Mr Waites, who also plans to open a People’s Supermarket in Didcot, added: “So far things have been going well, I think we have even had a few Tesco staff coming in, but the break-in is very disappointing.”

Sarah Thorne, 26, of Iffley Road, Oxford, who works at the store as a manager, added: “I’m saddened by this because it happened after so many people in the community have come together to do something positive.”

Thames Valley Police spokesman Leo Tarring appealed for any witnesses to contact Pc James Rudge on the 24-hour police inquiry line 101.

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