Long-standing animal rescue centre owner 'gutted' after break-in

Up to 60 chickens have been stolen from an animal rescue centre, whose owner has been left 'gutted' by the overnight break-in.

Irene Clarke, 57, has run The Old Gardens Animal Rescue Centre in Sidlesham since 2002, and it comes as the fourth break-in she has had to deal with in that time.

Old Gardens Animal Rescue Centre owner Irene Clarke with some of the chickens. Photo: Steve Robards SR1907836

Old Gardens Animal Rescue Centre owner Irene Clarke with some of the chickens. Photo: Steve Robards SR1907836

She said: "I came in this morning (Wednesday) at 7.45 and realised we had been broken into overnight.

"They took the padlock off the shed and stole 60 chickens, their crates and packets of food.

"It is the fourth time we have been broken into."

Irene, who lives in Portsmouth, said she had originally been a joint owner of the company alongside her brother, until his death at the age of just 44 in 2009.

Old Gardens Animal Rescue Centre owner Irene Clarke with some of the chickens. Photo: Steve Robards. SR1907851

Old Gardens Animal Rescue Centre owner Irene Clarke with some of the chickens. Photo: Steve Robards. SR1907851

She added: "I've owned the business for 17 years. I built it up from scratch with my brother until he died ten years ago.

"We started it from nothing, it was just a bit of wasteland. I've ran it on my own ever since with the help of a couple of volunteers and my good friend Dave (Cassam).

"This break-in is horrible and gutting really."

Sussex Police is investigating after the break-in and has appealed for anyone with any information to come forward.

Old Gardens Animal Rescue Centre owner Irene Clarke with some of the chickens. Photo: Steve Robards SR1907845

Old Gardens Animal Rescue Centre owner Irene Clarke with some of the chickens. Photo: Steve Robards SR1907845

A spokesman said: "Police are investigating the theft of 50-60 chickens from Highlea Road at Sidlesham.

"The site was broken into overnight on Wednesday/Thursday (March 20-21) and the chickens, along with three crates, were stolen.

"Anyone with information about the incident is asked to report online or call 101 quoting serial 213 of 21/03."