IT was a shocking start to the New Year for a family-run Post Office when thieves broke in, stealing the till from the shop and alcohol.

The intruders, wearing hooded tops, forced the door of the Barnards Way Post Office in Charlton Heights, Wantage, at 4.30am yesterday.

The alarm was activated and nine police officers attended the scene, but the two men escaped.

Yesterday, forensic scenes-of-crime officers were searching the premises.

Owner Harbhur Gill, who runs it with his wife Pat, said it was the first time the family-run shop had been broken into since they had been there.

He said: “They took the whole till and some whisky and beer.

“But they did more damage to the property, the door frame is damaged so we will have to repair that.

“We have been here 17 years and this is the first time we have been broken into, and the people before us were here for five years and it never happened to them. It is some ‘Happy New Year’.”

He added: “This is a very safe area, it just goes to show you can never tell.”

He said the thieves had been caught on his CCTV camera, which police were examining yesterday afternoon.

He said: “There were two men, youngish; they were wearing hoods, but you can see their faces.

“It is down to the police now.”

Pat Gill, who co-owns the shop with her husband, said the burglars raided the shop, not the Post Office itself, and that they were covered by private insurance.

She said the burglars had taken one of the shop’s metal newspaper trollies and stacked it with Strongbow cider and whisky which they then wheeled through the estate. Yesterday, police found the trolly with an abandoned crate of Strongbow in it nearby.

She said: “We have never seen anything like it.”

Thames Valley Police spokeswoman Rhianne Pope said the intruders had broken in by jemmying the front door.

She said they had pulled the till, severing the wires connecting it to the wall, and taken spirits and lager.

Vale of White Horse district councillor for Charlton and former Wantage mayor Charlotte Dickson has lived in Wantage for 20 years and said she had “never seen anything like it”.

She said: “Charlton Heights is a very safe place, I am very shocked about the whole thing.

“You don’t expect it to happen in Wantage.”

Charlton resident Stephen Savage said it was a “great shame” for the Post Office owners.

Mr Savage, 71, said: “It is shocking.

“The people who run the Post Office are good, local citizens and they provide a great service to the estate so it is a great shame. It is not nice when it happens on your own doorstep.”