CALLOUS crooks stole money donated to a village Christmas tree fund after breaking into a DIY store.

Two burglars were caught on CCTV raiding Darkins Supply Stores, in Sible Hedingham, just days before Christmas.

Cameras captured the crooks stealing a large sum of cash at 4.20am on Saturday.

The duo stole £1,000 of charity money which the shop had raised for the village Christmas tree, before escaping in a silver Vauxhall Astra van.

Shop owner Stephen Metson said: “I am frustrated and annoyed that it was far too easy to break into the shop.

“The fact that I have money stored in a safe and we have a CCTV camera and they had the cheek to break in.

“I am sure they will get caught as I have more evidence for the police.

“Tighter measures will be installed so this doesn’t happen again.

“I’m hoping our insurance company will pay out for our losses and the Christmas tree fund.”

Darkins Supply Stores had recently celebrated 50 years of trading and villagers say the shop is a big part of the community.

Residents took to social media to express their anger with the suspects and share support for the shop.

One resident said: “This upsets me so much this shop is such a big part of our community.”

Mr Metson said the police had been “fantastic”.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “We were made aware of a burglary at Darkins Supply Stores on Swan Street, Sidle Hedingham, on December 22.

“A four-figure sum of cash is believed to have been taken from the shop.”

Anyone with information is urged to call the police on 101 quoting 42/187385/18 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.