STAFF at nurseries and shops across East Renfrewshire are being urged to be vigilant following a series of break-ins.

The recent spate of targeted thefts has seen five local nurseries broken into, with several other small businesses suffering the same fate.

Among the victims is the Railway Cottage Nursery, in Barrhead, where crooks gained entry by smashing a window before stealing a safe from the office.

Nursery manager Lorna Gordon described the theft as “devastating” but praised staff and parents for rallying round to offer support.

She told the Barrhead News: “The staff have been great and the children have been blissfully unaware.

“It’s just the fact that people were in our space, the children’s happy place.

“Our parents have been absolutely fabulous. Their messages of support have been great, saying that, if we need anything, they can help us.
“The parents we’ve got here are brilliant.”

Police confirmed that, over the last six weeks, there has been a “noticeable rise” in the number of shops and nurseries being specifically targeted for float money, often left in tills or cash boxes.

Four nurseries in Newton Mearns alone have been targeted.

Mrs Gordon said: “There have been a few nurseries and other places broken into in the area but we’re hopeful that’s the end of it.”

No-one has yet been charged in relation to the break-ins but police have said enquiries are continuing.

Detective Inspector Kevin Gilmour added: “We are urging small business owners to take some simple precautions, such as ensuring that no money, no matter the amount, is left in tills overnight.

“We would also advise leaving till drawers open so that would-be thieves can see there is no money and putting a sign in the window, in plain view, saying that cash is not left on the premises overnight.

“Opportunistic theft of this kind not only causes a monetary loss but those responsible often damage the premises in an attempt to find money. So, not only do businesses lose out financially, they also have to pay out to rectify any damage done.”

Police Scotland’s website has further useful advice and crime prevention tips for businesses.

Anyone who has information about any of the break-ins is asked to call officers on 101.

Alternatively, ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.