CHARITY workers were left counting the cost of the damage caused by raiders who broke into an RSPCA shop three times.

Would-be burglars tried to saw through the door of the Chorley Old Road store in their final attempt to gain entry — but left empty-handed.

The break-in, at 6am on Friday, was the third time the shop had been targeted in the space of nine days.

The first incident on August 20 involved intruders removing a grill from a window at the back of the store.

Last Wednesday, they struck again by smashing a window, but did not get inside.

In the last attempt, shutters were bypassed and the bottom of the back door was sawn off. Keys were used inside and a locker opened but nothing was taken.

Replacing the door and improving security has now left the charity with a bill of more than £1,500.

Helen Booth, an animal welfare adviser at the RSPCA, said: “We thought it was bad enough when they tried to break in the first two times, then it happened again.

“We are really worried about it happening a fourth time. We rely on fundraising and getting the money back could take up to a year or two.

“It is money that could have been spent on foster homes for cats we rescue and to cover the cost of vet bills.”

A spokesman for the store said: “When I got the phone call from police early in the morning, I felt sick.

“The people who did this have been pushing the boundaries each time and this last time came with a saw.

“I don’t know why we are being targeted. We haven’t got anything of value at all — you would think we had the crown jewels.”

Insp Wayne Readfern, from Bolton North Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “A lot of charities are feeling the pinch at the minute and the fact people are attempting to steal from a not-for-profit organisation like the RSCPA is appalling.

“The incident on Friday morning was the third time the shop has been targeted since August 20.

"Although each of the incidents took place early in the morning I would urge people to think back to when the shop was targeted.”

People with information can call police on 101 or 0800 555111.