AN ANIMAL rescue centre in Oldham could have to pay a minimum of £3,500 to repair damage and improve security after a break in.

Thieves stole collection boxes, raffle prizes and cash, leaving damage in their wake after smashing through the doors of Pennine Pen, in Honeywell Lane, Oldham.

Staff at the centre think the break in happened around midnight on Sunday, July 7, or in the early hours on Monday morning.

Andrea Whitmore, chair of trustees at Pennine Pen, said surveys into the damage suggested repairs and new security equipment could cost at least £3,500 - money which would normally be used to look after rescued cats, dogs and other small animals.

"That's money that we should be using on vets bills, paying wages and other key things," she said.

"At the end of the day we just have to make sure that the animals and the staff are safe.

"Luckily they didn't get in to where the animals are but they will have heard all the commotion and gone ballistic."

There is further concern that the thieves could be using stolen donation boxes to fraudulently ask for money, and representatives from the centre have warned members of the public to be careful.

It is not the first time that the centre has had problems with criminal behaviour.

Previously, Ms Whitmore explained, there has been damage to vans parked in the centre's carpark which prompted new fences and other costly security measures.

But a Facebook post referring to the "callous" thieves has received a raft of feedback and support from the Oldham community.

It has been shared nearly 1,500 times and has received hundreds of comments.

Anyone interested in helping the animals and staff at Pennine Pen can donate to the centre at