CALLOUS thieves struck a bereavement charity which exposed the Mortonhall ashes scandal, taking a laptop which contained crucial correspondence around the issue.
Sands Lothian uncovered the Edinburgh crematorium’s practice of burying new and stillborn ashes without their parents’ knowledge, which has led to an investigation.
But at the weekend thieves entered the charity’s office in Colinton Road, Edinburgh, and took the laptop and a box of keys.
The charity is now around £3,000 out of pocket, and they fear the theft could have been targeted at the laptop.
Dorothy Maitland, operations manager of Sands, said the laptop contained emails between her, MSPs and council officials about the scandal, which is under investigation by Dame Elish Angiolini.
She stressed no personal details of families affected by the scandal were in the laptop, as these were held separately.
She said: “We’re all very shocked that someone would come in and do this.
“It’s a huge inconvenience we’ve had to deal with.”
She continued: “There was a TV, a collection can with money in it, a franking machine and a bottle of wine they could have taken but they seem to have just gone for the laptop and a key safe.
“It’s very worrying. I don’t know if they came in specifically for the laptop but the whole thing doesn’t make sense and is very strange.”
The theft comes as the charity has seen demand for its services soar due to the crematorium allegations, with many parents anxious to find out what happened to their children’s ashes.
But its resources have fallen because staff are so busy coping with the demand they don’t have time to fund-raise.
The charity has ten “befrienders” for bereaved people and two qualified counsellors.
The Scottish Government pledged £30,000 to help fund the charity last month, and it is set to receive a one-off grant to help fund its £95,000-a-year running costs.
Ms Maitland added: “It’s a body blow for us and apart from anything else it makes you feel sick that someone has come in to our office.
“The laptop has a lot of information on it that I will need and is sensitive.
“I’m concerned it’s been done by someone who has been after my laptop but I’m worrying and praying that it is opportunistic.
“With all the publicity about this scandal going on you just don’t know.”
A Lothian and Borders olice spokesman said: “We can confirm that police are investigating a theft from an office premises in Colinton Road that happened over the weekend.
“Anyone with any information that can assist out enquiries should contact Lothian and Borders Police on 0131 311 3131 or alternatively call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”