THIEVES stole hundreds of pounds worth of meat from a shop while the butcher was sleeping in the flat above.

More than £600 worth of pork, lamb, bacon and sausages were stolen from The Butchers, in Beechcroft Road, between 10.30pm on Tuesday and 7.30am yesterday.

The thieves broke in through the back door while the butcher was in the property above the store, and also took £400 in cash from the till.

Owner Darren Smith said: “It’s gutting because we are trying to build our stock up for Christmas. It is gutting for all the staff who put so much effort into the shop.

“They have broken in through the back door and taken a load of good quality meat. We reckon more than £600 worth has been taken.

“There was also £400 in the till – £300 of which was three weeks’ wages for my mum, Pat, who works here part-time.

“We only took over back in November, it has been a tight year for us like everyone else. It is a big setback. It will take us a few days just to get the stock back.”

The thieves climbed over a gate behind the store, then through a small toilet window and they opened the back door from the inside.

“The butcher, Jason, lives above so they were as quiet as possible,” said Darren.

“My mum came in at about 7.30am and thought we had left the place in a mess the night before. The butcher came down and found the back door had been unlocked.”

Darren is urging people to keep an eye out for anyone selling big pieces of pork, legs of lamb, bacon or sausages.

“It’s what you would get from any wholesaler,” he said.

“All they have left in the store is what we had already cut. They have taken the big whole pieces.”

Charity boxes in the shop were moved during the break-in but not stolen.

The store was closed yesterday morning while staff waited for the police to arrive.

A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said investigations were ongoing.

He said they were called to the scene yesterday morning after reports that someone had gained access to the shop through the window and taken cash from the till.

Witnesses or anyone with information should call Wiltshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.