Tea shop owner Rob Perks feels so sorry for the cake-eating burglar who broke into his premises that he is offering help to feed the needy.

A thief got in through the back of Dutch Cottage and smashed items during a search, before stealing £10 from the tips jar and eating a chunk of coffee cake.

Deputy manager Dave Jarvis was first on the scene last Tuesday morning. He said: “It was a bit of a mess – glass on the floor, till on the floor, drawers forced open. The cake thing was unusual, I guess it was hungry work.”

Owner Mr Perks said he thought it was a bleak sign of the times when people were breaking and entering in order to eat. He is now offering free food for the needy through Salvation Army meal vouchers.

He said: “My first reaction was to be angry but then I thought how sad it is. There wasn’t much stolen in terms of value but it is a sad statement of the times.

“It’s clearly someone with no money to go to that effort for a few pounds.

“A professional thief would not be stopping to take a bite of cake.”

It is the second burglary at the tea room within a year. Last February, thieves took two joints of meat as well as charity boxes.

The business has also seen a couple of other, unsuccessful, attempts since opening in St Mary Street six years ago.

Mr Perks said: “I would rather try to help people than have them break in, so people who are entitled to the Salvation Army food bank will be able to get meal vouchers from the charity in Foghamshire to use at Dutch Cottage.”

Police are appealing for information about the latest break-in, which took place between 10.45pm on Monday, January 28, and 8.30am on Tuesday, January 29.

Anyone with information can call PC Verity Ruffell at Wiltshire Police on 101.