Thieves targeted Goudies Funeral Directors in Lerwick overnight between Wednesday and Thursday and made off with charity donations and money from the company safe.
Funeral director Anne Goudie, who owns the business, said she was devastated because whoever had broken in had “robbed the dead” by taking money collected at funerals.
Mrs Goudie said: “It’s not only Goudies that has been robbed but the dead also. I’m shocked and disgusted and so upset. We’re here to help the dead. We do everything we can for them then someone robs them. It’s disgraceful.”
Mrs Goudie said the thieves or thief – it could have been one person acting alone, she speculated – had broken in through the window of her office at the front of the building. They had then smashed the heavy doors of the cupboard which housed the safe. The cupboard had actually been built around the safe, leading Mrs Goudie to think the person or persons responsible were familiar with the building.
The safe had then been dragged out of the cupboard and the back of it broken, which must have taken some strength. “It was obviously someone who knew what they were doing.”
Company cash to the value of around £1,200 and donations that had been collected at recent funerals in Shetland were taken.
Everything was well-insured and well-secured, Mrs Goudie said, and she said that nothing except money had been taken. Cheque books and bank cards had been left untouched. But, she said, no money would be left on the premises in future.
She stressed that the intruders had been nowhere near the mortuary or chapel of rest and that business would continue as usual.
This is the third burglary the premises has suffered. The first was a serious and “practically identical” break-in in November 1995 after which the individual concerned was caught. The “local person” who committed the second break-in was also caught.
Now this week’s crime has shocked Mrs Goudie. “It’s knocked me for six to think someone could do this to us again. How could they burgle a funeral parlour? We work so hard to look after everybody, as soon as the phone goes we’re there, now someone destroys it.”
The break-in means that the company will not be able to uplift funeral donations at present as there is nowhere to store the money.
Mrs Goudie said security in the building would now be increased, although she had previously believed the premises to be “pretty secure”.
Meanwhile she said: “I’m leaving [the investigation] to the CID, I’ve got great faith in Lerwick police.”
Detective sergeant Lindsay Tulloch said: “Anyone who may have seen anyone acting suspiciously in the area or who may know who is responsible or have any other information regarding this incident are asked to contact the police.”