Break-in at our Yate shop - Great Western Air Ambulance Charity
Mission Support Centre Update
April 19, 2022
A chat with Pilot Jim
May 5, 2022

Edited 06.05.22

Break-in at our Yate shop leaves staff and volunteers disappointed, but the generosity of our supporters has been overwhelming. 

Staff and volunteers at our shop in Yate have been left disappointed and shocked after a break-in over the recent bank holiday weekend.

Thieves have made off with money meant to help people in our local community who are suffering a life-threatening illness or injury.

On the morning of Tuesday 3 May, Yate Shop Manager, Marwa Bahssali, was greeted with an unexpected mess when she came to open the shop following the bank holiday weekend.

She said, “Someone had gained entrance through the front door and then located our huge collection globe towards the back of the shop. They smashed it open and managed to grab most of the banknotes, before making off.”

No high value items were taken, and the till would have been empty, but we estimate around £70 - £100 of cash was taken from our collection box. It may have been someone who has been in our shop before and knew exactly what they were targeting, as the donation point can’t be seen from outside.

The collection globe is the only one of its kind that we have, and we have had it for many years collecting much needed funds to support our work. Our charity staff have quite a sentimental attachment to it, and it’s now damaged beyond repair and will likely cost £100 - £200 to replace.

Marwa Bahssali added: “People have had the kindness to donate money that they would have worked hard for, to help save the lives of people in Yate and beyond. It’s the sadness that someone has made so much effort to break in to our wonderful shop and take that cash for themselves that disappoints us so much.”

Great Western Air Ambulance Charity provides emergency care to people who are in a state so critical that they require the specialist skills of our team at the scene of the accident or medical incident. Though we are part of the regional 999 response service and work closely with NHS hospitals, we are a charity entirely funded by local people in our local communities.

Our charity shops are a key part of our fundraising efforts and the pandemic had already meant that we had to delay the opening of our shops and cancel fundraising events, so to have precious cash stolen just as everything is moving forward has frustrated the whole team.

This shop in Yate Shopping Centre, South Gloucestershire, has been open less than ten months. We first welcomed customers in August 2021, and we recently had our best week ever in terms of takings, which is usually an average of over £400 a day.

Marwa Bahssali said, “Something like this is heart-breaking for our wonderful team of staff and volunteers who work tirelessly and donate so much time to running our charity shops. But we’re determined not to let this affect us. We are of course tightening our security, but we are open for business, and we’d like to thank everyone in the community for their continued support.

“I am asking anyone who knows anything about this incident to make contact with us, or please contact the police.”

Police have been informed of the incident and Shopping Centre Management are looking through security footage to gain information on the time and date of the break-in, plus anything that helps us to catch the perpetrator.

06.05.21 Since we appealed on social media for information about the raid a number of our supporters have offered to help replace the lost funds and fix the damage.  After such a disappointing theft it has been heartwarming to see such a generous response from our community, especially at a time when many are feeling the squeeze.  

Find out more about our charity shops