THE hunt is on for a lowlife thief who broke into a hospice charity shop in Greenock, stole thousands of pounds and forced it to close.

The shocking crime happened at the Ardgowan Hospice store at the Waterfront Retail Park.

It was discovered when staff arrived on Monday.

The intruder forced their way in via the back door of the shop before stealing money from the safe.

As a result of the incident, the hospice shop had to close its doors on Monday - which means they have also lost up to a further £1,000 in takings.

They also had to fork out to fix the broken back door.

Kenny McDonald, store supervisor, is disgusted that someone could steal from a charity which supports people who are at the end of their lives.

Kenny said: "Someone forced their way into the building and made off with a small amount of money which was in a safe.

"It's pretty bad that someone would break into a local charity and take money, as every penny raised goes to the hospice.

"It's a bit of a shock."

The store was forced to close on Monday to allow police officers to investigate what happened.

Kenny added: "We had to close, so we've lost money.

"On a daily basis we can make between £800 and £1,000.

"We've had so many people turn up at the shop and we had to tell them we were closed.

"It's sickening."

Alan Kane, who is a retail support officer, said: "It's unbelievable.

"We've only been opened since February."

Police are carrying out a forensic examination of the store and CCTV is being scoured for clues.

Sergeant Jason Logsdon of Greenock police said: "Between 1700hrs on 1st June and 0900hrs on 3rd June access was forced to Ardgowan Hospice, Custom House Way in Greenock whereby approximately £2,000 was stolen from within.

"This is a despicable act targeting a charity organisation, which removes vital funding away from the people they support.

"Any information should be passed to police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.