Thieves have targeted a local charity that supports women and children fleeing domestic violence.
Volunteers arrived at Hunter Domestic Violence Support and Advisory Services’ Branxton outreach intake centre on Tuesday morning to find the premises trashed after an overnight break-in.
The organisation – which operates the Jodie’s Place refuge – has operated out of the Branxton premises for the past 18 months, and this is the second break-in they have faced in the last year.
HDVSAS coordinator Paula Mudd said she was “gobsmacked” when she realised what had happened.
“Why steal from a charity?” she said.
“I am truly upset about this.”
All of the items that are kept on site are donated by the public, which are passed on to women and children in need.
“The people of Cessnock, Branxton and Kurri have donated this, not for people to come in and steal it,” Ms Mudd said.
“We’re passing it on, we’re not keeping it.
“We’ve helped a lot of women.”
Ms Mudd suspects the latches on the doors had been detached with bolt cutters, which allowed the thieves to remove the padlocks and gain entry.
The property is owned by Huntlee, who Ms Mudd also contacted about implementing improved security measures.
Prior to the break-in, the items in the shed were organised and tidied by people involved in the work for the dole program.
HDVSAS was planning to sell some of the items at a garage sale to raise money for the refuge, but will now be set back, having to dedicate time to clean up the shed.
Ms Mudd is encouraging people to keep an eye out for any items that they had donated, as she thinks the thieves may try to sell them.
While the situation is a hindrance, she said they will be back on their feet in no time.
“We’re hurt, we’re not down,” she said.
Anyone with information about the incident should contact Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.