Staff and volunteers upset after 'reckless' incident left much of the PDSA's Aldershot charity shop stock fire-damaged
A late-night arson attack on a charity shop in Aldershot has left it struggling for stock.
The PDSA shop in Union Street, which funds veterinary care for pets, was targeted in the early hours of Friday (December 13) as a wheelie bin was set alight and rammed into the back entrance at about 2.45am.
The bin melted in the blaze and the heat caused the rear window to smash with stock suffering smoke damage.
Many items, donated by the public, cannot be sold and staff are appealing for new donations.
Annie Campbell, area retail manager for PDSA, said she was woken at her home in Newbury at 4am by a call from a police officer who told her someone had attempted to set fire to the shop.
“I panic when the phone rings at that time in the morning,” said Mrs Campbell. “There are flats above the shop with young families, it’s terrifying.
"I’ve worked for the PDSA for 11 years and I’ve seen incidents, but I’ve never seen this. The whole bin is melted; I don’t know how I’m going to get that off the floor.
“I think it’s reckless and I don’t think they realise the damage and danger fire causes, and also the cost. It’s malicious.”
Mrs Campbell said it might have been “a bit of fun for somebody” but animals will suffer.
Appeal for donations
“In a roundabout way, they are taking away valuable treatment for pets,” she added.
By the time firefighters had arrived, the fire had spread to the bin belonging to the Phyllis Tuckwell shop next door.
Crews broke down the back door of the PDSA shop to get inside as it was initially thought the fire might have spread into the store room. The door has been replaced and work is being carried out to repair the damage caused.
A spokesman for Hampshire Constabulary said police were alerted by the fire service at 3.20am and tracked down the keyholder.
The incident follows an arson attack on a PDSA shop in Ilford, Greater London, at lunchtime on March 29 which left it completely destroyed.
“I was annoyed and angry,” added Mrs Campbell. “It has cost us and it could potentially have cost lives.
“It’s a busy time of year and we’re struggling for stock as it is. You can’t sell products that are smoke damaged.
“It will set us back because people are looking for bits and bobs for Christmas and looking for a bargain. Potentially, we won’t be able to raise as much this year, unless we can replace the stock.”
The PDSA in Aldershot has around 24 volunteers and they were said to be upset by the incident, but the shop was not forced to close.
Items can be donated to the shop in person or by arranging for them to be picked up by calling the shop on 01252 312237.