Disbelief after Oatley charity shop break-in

Annoyed: Volunteer Joan Vaughan was the first to discover the damage done to Mulga Road Books. Picture: John Veage

Annoyed: Volunteer Joan Vaughan was the first to discover the damage done to Mulga Road Books. Picture: John Veage

How could they?

That was the question volunteers were left asking themselves after thieves broke into Mulga Road Books at Oatley on Wednesday.

It’s believed the thieves broke into the charity bookshop in the early hours of Wednesday morning with neighbours hearing some suspicious noises at around 2:30am.

It was only when a group of three volunteers arrived just before 9am that the true nature of the damage was uncovered.

Joan Vaughan was the first to work and saw the front door smashed in and glass covering the pavement.

She is one of the eldest volunteers at 88 and has been helping out since the beginning.

“It was a complete mess and more than anything else I was annoyed,’’ she said.

“How could anybody do this?

“I mean, take things, but you don’t need to make a complete mess and destroy things.’’

Only $75 was taken from a cash box but the biggest damage was done to the computer which digitalised the collection of books.

The store had only been using the system for six months after they were given a $5,000 grant by the Federal Government.

Investigation: Forensic technicians were at the scene on Wednesday testing for fingerprints. Picture: John Veage

Investigation: Forensic technicians were at the scene on Wednesday testing for fingerprints. Picture: John Veage

The matter was reported to St George police and a fingerprint technician arrived later that afternoon to test the door and desk.

The store has a security camera inside while a second films the entrance to the building. Volunteers are hoping one of the two cameras will shed some light on who was responsible.

The store opened in December 2011 as a project of Hurstville Rotary and is run entirely by the 30 volunteers.

All the donated books are thoroughly cleaned before being placed on shelves.

From history to humour and everything in between, the store has about 16,000 books, with thousands more in storage.

Books start from $1 with all money raised go to Hurstville Rotary.

The funds are then used for community causes including the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Angel Flight, and around $50,000 for a fairy garden at St George Hospital

Other books are donated to hospitals, overseas schools and nursing homes.

Volunteer Margaret Ward said she was in disbelief when she heard the news.

“How could they? They know we’re a charity bookshop, why?

“The $75 we can wear but the computer is the tragedy because we’ve just gone upmarket with the computer.

“We can’t trade now without the cash drawer and without the computer.

‘’It’s just a shame. Perhaps if we were really wealthy I could understand it, but it’s just sheer bastardry.’’

Hurstville Rotary President Jan Gartrell agreed.

“It’s sad because all these volunteers work so hard for this bookshop. Everything we raise goes back to community groups,’’ she said.

“To see it destroyed is upsetting.’’

The break-in hasn’t dampened their spirits though with doors reopening on Thursday.

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