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'Scumbag' Thieves Rob Doughnut Business Employing People With Disabilities

A Canberra business employing people with disabilities is counting the cost after a "disgraceful and disgusting" theft.

A till and point of sale machine belonging to Krofne, a business homemade selling doughnuts, was stolen from their stall at Gungahlin Marketplace on Thursday morning as they were setting up for the day's trade.

Krofne owner Danijela Vrkic and her husband started the business in 2016 to provide an employment opportunity for their son Anthony, then 15, who has Down Syndrome.

"Anthony has just turned 18 and is graduating school. We wanted to make sure his future was secure because it can be very difficult for these kids to find meaningful employment after they leave school," Vrkic told 10 daily.

Danijela and Anthony. Image: Facebook/Krofne.

Krofne now employees 20 people, 10 of whom have an intellectual disability. Vrkic said the theft had been wounding, both financially and emotionally, for the business.

"In the time we have been doing this, nothing like this has ever happened, and the impact that it has had on our disabled staff has been massive," she said.

One of the business tills was taken, with $300 cash inside, as well as a point of sale machine worth around $800. Vrkic said they were also unable to sell $1500 worth of doughnuts on Thursday, which are handmade each morning by her husband.

"That is all replaceable but the emotional toll on the employees is the really big issue," Vrkic said.

"They really look forward to work and they were disheartened yesterday. That's the worst part about it. Their work gives them a sense of purpose and they were really sad they couldn't work."

The territory's peak disability advocacy body, People With Disabilities ACT (PWDACT), said people with disabilities are vulnerable members of society and should not be targeted by crime.

"This is disgusting and disgraceful criminal behavior. The fact they have targeted a business that is well known in Canberra to employ people with disabilities is terrible" CEO Rachel Sirr told 10 daily.

"This is scumbag behaviour. I am sick of the crime. Criminals are heartless."

PWD ACT CEO Rachel Sirr with an employee at a Krofne pop-up on Friday. Image: Rachel Sirr.

Sirr praised businesses giving employment opportunities to people with a disability, and said targeting their place of work removes the sense of security that work can give them.

"They are putting their heart and soul into their employment, possibly more than people in the mainstream workforce. Employment is such a critical part of being connected to society, particularly for people with a disability," she said.

Police confirmed in a statement to 10 daily that they are looking into the matter.

"I can confirm ACT Policing are aware of the incident and are investigating," an ACT Policing spokesperson said.

The business employs 10 people with disabilities. Image: Facebook/ Krofne.

Vrkic and her team are back at Gungahlin Marketplace, their permanent locations at Fyshwick Markets and Old Bus Depot Markets plus many others around Canberra on Friday, determined to continue to trade despite Thursday's incident.

"I just think it's really sad because we are going into the community trying to make a difference through employment for people with intellectual disabilities,"Vrkic told 10 daily.

"What is really important is that we keep trading because of our staff."

Contact Siobhan at skenna@networkten.com.au