Thieves steal Light Dragoons charity cash

Thieves have smashed into a small village store and stolen four charity boxes, including one containing cash and wristbands due to be sold to raise money to support wounded Light Dragoons.

Thieves smashed into a village store and stole four charity boxes, including one containing cash and wristbands due to be sold to raise money for wounded Light Dragoons.

About �3,000 of cigarettes, a box of DVDs and alcohol were also stolen in what was the third raid on Swanton Morley Stores, in Gooseberry Hill in the village, near Dereham, in the past six months.

Shortly after the raid, another store, in neighbouring Bawdeswell, was also raided.

It happened in the early hours of Monday - just days after shopkeeper Jose Rodrigues had handed a �500 cheque won through a competition with Walkers crisps to the Light Dragoons Charitable Trust.

He said he supported the Dragoons because they were a part of the village, and he felt sick the burglars had taken their charity box, which contained about �200, and 200 of the Dragoons' charity wristbands which are being sold to raise money for their trust.

"All the guys come in all the time, they talk and have a laugh and we know their children and wives. But they have lost three this year and many have been injured.

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"One has lost a leg and you remember seeing them and it is really bad."

The Dragoons have lost three soldiers and many more have been wounded in the past few months while the regiment has been serving in Afghanistan.

A funeral for Trooper Christopher Whiteside, who was killed on July 7 in Helmand province is due to be held in Blackpool on Friday.

For Mr Rodrigues it is also the latest break-in at the business he runs with his wife.

He had only received the payment for the last time his shop was burgled, back in March, on Friday.

The last two break-ins were through the back door, now reinforced. The latest was through the front door, which now also has to be reinforced.

Local resident Barbara Smith said she saw the burglars filling their car with boxes after she heard the alarm go off.

"I went to the window and saw four men and a car," she said. "They were coming out of the shop with boxes, I imagine of cigarettes."

Her husband called the police but when another car drove towards the store the burglars drove off up Elsing Road, she said.

The other charity boxes taken were for East Anglia's Children's Hospices, Guide Dogs for the Blind and a horse charity.

A McColls store in nearby Bawdeswell was broken into and cigarettes and some soft drinks taken at about the same time.

Anyone with any information should contact Det Sgt Ross Whatmore on 0845 456 4567 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.