A COUPLE were left in shock after their shop was targeted by raiders on Thursday morning.

Peter Lewis, 60, and wife Jenny, 48, were woken up at 3.30am by “banging and crashing”.

The couple live above their hardware shop, Fork ‘Andles, on the High Street in Earls Colne.

When they went downstairs to check on the noise, the crooks had gone.

The burglars escaped with five charity boxes after ransacking the store.

Mr Lewis said: “There was a lot of banging and crashing on the front door and some of the stands had been dislodged.

“It was pretty scary because you don’t know how many of them there are and the alarm was going off as well.

“We live above the shop so they were breaking into our home.”

The raiders got away with charity pots containing money that had been donated by customers for the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance, St Helena Hospice, Farleigh Hospice, the Poppy Appeal and Earls Colne’s Christmas lights appeal.

Mr Lewis said each pot usually contains about £30.

He said: “There was a small amount of damage to our front door and a bit of mess inside.”

The couple cleared up the damage and were able to open the shop by 8am yesterday.

They only moved into the shop six weeks ago.

Their previous store was also located on the High Street.

Unfortunately, that building fell victim to two break-ins over the decade the couple ran the shop.

The Co-op in Sible Hedingham was also broken early yesterday morning.

Three men were later arrested in connection with that raid.

A police spokesman said: “Three men have been arrested after cigarettes stolen from a Co-op store in Sible Hedingham were traced to an address in Suffolk.

“We were called shortly before 4am with reports that entry had been forced into the store on Swan Street and cigarettes had been stolen.

“Acting upon information and working alongside colleagues from Suffolk Police, officers went to an address on Elm Close in Haverhill.

“The three arrested men remain in police custody.”

No one at the Co-op was available for comment.