The team at Armley Junk-tion arrived yesterday morning to find someone had smashed a window and ransacked the office.
The cafe in Chapel Lane is part of the Real Junk Food Project, a global network of ‘pay as you feel’ cafes which use food destined for waste to create healthy meals.
On one day last week they fed more than 50 people and made only £1.50 in donations.
And while some would have used social media to vent their anger, cafe co-director Adam Smith instead issued a ‘public apology’ to those involved in the break-in.
He wrote: “*Public apology* To the person/s that broke into Armley Junk-tion #PAYF cafe last night, we apologise, but we do not keep any monies on site.
“Luckily no one was injured whilst creating a ladder-like structure to break the glass of the window with a brick, only to find themselves locked into a room, and then somehow climb back out safely.
“One day last week, we fed over 50 people and made £1.50 in PAYF donations. Most our our income comes from external events and catering, which is usually paid BACS.
“If it was something specifically you were looking for, then maybe next time just ask us? If you’re in such a state that you were desperate enough to have to smash into a Community Interest Companies building to try and find money, then next time, just ask us... we’re all actually good people, I’m sure we would have helped you out.
“Also, you may want to come back and get your phone you left behind?... sorry”
Undeterred by the burglary, the team opened the cafe yesterday as usual and said they wouldn’t let it get them down.
Manager and co-director Teresa Milligan said: “We never closed at all. We worked round the forensics and the police, and we’ve been busy again today.
“We’ve had such positive feedback from people who are annoyed that we were broken into. We’ve had offers of help, offers of money.”
She said the burglars only got away with a small amount of money.
“We feel sorry for the perperators. It’s just a shame that they didn’t come and ask if they were in trouble at all or get any help,” she said.
“We’re pretty sure it must be local people.”
Dozens of supportive messages have been posted on the cafe’s Facebook page since the public apology was shared.
Dawn Gibson said: “What a truly fantastic reaction from yourselves and shame on the people / person who did it !! I haven’t got round to visiting the café yet but have wanted to for some time and this makes me want to even more xx keep doing what your doing xx to the person (s) who broke in seriously sit yourselves down and re evaluate your lives !!”
Becky Louise said: “Omg I hope you are all ok as this is a lovely place which helps everyone one out in anyway possible. You are all lovely people which I’ve met over the months I’ve been coming to the cafe. Hope you get sorted xx
Hayley Fox said: “Wow wow wow, what a statement you have written, and I think it sums up what you are/do! much love you are doing a great job and have such a great attitude.”
Stephanie Bell said: “Absolute disgrace! Really can’t understand why some would even contemplate stealing from a charity or anyone for that matter, what a wonderful place you have created. And to be there for those in need.”
Clou Parker said: “Very sad to read this – such a great venture. Please don’t be disheartened.”
Preeti Goodwill said: “Such a crying shame but your reaction has gladdened my heart, disappointed but not disheartened and knowing the real crime is that someone is in such need and so unaware. I doff my metaphorical hat to you all but in particular to Mr Smith”
Donna Burrows said: “Not sure I would’ve written such a polite well worded response and been so understanding! Having to use funds to fix the window must be frustrating but I love your spirit :-D xx”