STAFF at a Weymouth fundraising shop are saddened – and slightly puzzled – after a gang of thieves stole an industrial machine from outside their front door.

The flatwork iron, which requires several people to shift it, was left outside of HS4B’s shop in Portland Road, Wyke Regis, ready for collection.

The not-for-profit organisation helps people facing financial hardship and sells items from its shop as way of generating income.

HS4B founder Ian Lambert is angry that someone took the item and deprived his organisation of cash.

Mr Lambert bought the blue Electrolux iron from a local hotel through the online auction site eBay, thinking it might come in handy for pressing the many clothes and bedding items which are donated to the shop.

It was only when it arrived did he realise how heavy and cumbersome it was – so he put it outside the shop in readiness for the scrap metal collection.

The iron, which is about 4-5ft high and several feet wide, was taken sometime overnight on Sunday.

Mr Lambert said: “The scrap metal value would not have been huge but it’s money that should have gone in our till.

“I’m angry that someone stole from a community project.

“We’re a charitable concern and it clearly states above our shop it is a fundraising shop and the thieves would’ve seen that.

“I just assumed the iron would be safe outside.

“It’s far too heavy for someone to nick it just like that. It would take several men and a vehicle.”

He added: “It had been outside the shop for a week.

“It felt safe enough to leave it there.

“It’s a commercial flatwork iron and not something you’d keep round the house for a spot of ironing.

“I’m amazed that someone has taken it.”

The debt advisory service HS4B was established two years ago with the aim of supporting people who are bankrupt or insolvent and want to get back on their feet again.

The shop was opened four months ago and takes everything that turns up. Inside is an Aladdin’s Cave of treasures from buttons to beds, milk bottle tops to microwave ovens.

Staff recycle what they can and swap scrap metal and old rags for cash from merchants.

Witnesses and anyone with information about the theft can contact Dorset Police in confidence on 01305 222222 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.