A CALLOUS act of thievery has left the owners of a Forsyth Street shops questioning the future of their business.
Shortly before 2am on Wednesday, thieves smashed a glass door at the front of the Country High Tea House before making off with a significant amount of money.
Co-owners Malcolm and Sharon Hagen say the latest incident of vandalism their business has suffered may be the final straw.
“We just don’t know, we’ve just nearly had enough now,” Mr Hagen said.
“You hear of other small suburban shops have issues, like Bruce Street (in Tolland) and all that, and you can understand why after a while it gets a bit much.”
Mrs Hagen was left wondering whether the effort she and her husband put into the business was still worth it.
“This is sort of breaking the camel’s back, I think,” she said.
Included in the money stolen was two days’ worth of the businesses takings, along with a donation tin collecting funds for Angels for the Forgotten containing about $250.
“We knew we shouldn’t have left (it) on site but we had it hidden round the back … which we thought was pretty safe,” Mr Hagen said.
The tin was the pride and joy of the couple’s son, Bryce, who was having trouble coming to terms with its theft on Wednesday.
But with the community rallying around the business since the break-in, Bryce’s collection for Angels for the Forgotten quickly swelled again throughout the day on Wednesday, with people chipping in to show their support after the theft.
Word spread quickly on social media following the theft with the Wagga community getting right behind the Hagens, determined to help them get back on their feet.
Bryce’s donations tin had been left with just $15 by the thieves, but by mid-afternoon that amount had multiplied several times.
Seeing the support for his business in the aftermath of the theft, Mr Hagen said the whole affair had been a “bittersweet” experience.
“Bryce has probably recouped his money today,” he said.
Mr Hagen said the business had taken extra precautions with its donations tin after seeing one knocked off at the Southcity Takeaway last July.
In that incident, a donation tin was brazenly swiped from the counter at the takeaway with staff just metres away.
Wednesday’s theft is just the latest in a series of incidents for the tea house since Mr and Mrs Hagen took the reins two years ago.
In that time, the couple’s car has been vandalised three times at the back of the store and a sign at the side of the shop has been swiped by thieves.
Meanwhile, a gas leak closed Edward Street for around two hours on Wednesday.
A gas main ruptured next to the road at Bolton Park at about 11am, forcing nearby businesses to evacuate.
The road was reopened at about 1pm.
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