A North East business has been left devastated and angered after being the victim of a theft last week, which saw £500 worth of charity toys stolen just before it launches its 'Santa Cruise'.

The Teesside Princess, a leisure cruiser which offers passengers sea views across Teesside, is known for offering up to 100 passenger fares across the waters of the North East. 

While it would normally be offering its dinner dances, and party packages and building towards its Christmas Santa cruises, which sees children meet Santa on the boat and go for a festive boat ride - this year's 'Santa Cruise' is in jeopardy after the company was hit by thieves.

In preparation for the Santa Cruises, The Teesside Princess had been stockpiling children's toys on its boat. 

Darlington and Stockton Times: The Teesside PrincessThe Teesside Princess (Image: THE TEESSIDE PRINCESS)

But all of this hard work was unpicked on Monday, November 20 after thieves broke into The Teesside Princess boat and stole £500 worth of children's toys - leaving the business devastated. 

The company, who had sold out all of its Santa Cruise trips for this year, said that at about 6am, it had been visited by a male and female - who smashed their way through the boat and stole various items. 

Within the incident, alongside £500 worth of toys being stolen, an office was destroyed, alcohol was taken from the boat and a window smashed. 

The business has now laid out the 'tireless effort' that its team goes through to make the Santa Cruises possible - and has warned of the impact that these acts of theft and vandalism can have on the attraction. 

A spokesperson for The Teesside Princess said: "Over the past six years, we have worked tirelessly to transform Teesside Princess into a family-friendly tourist attraction that everyone can be proud of.

"We’re coming up to our busiest time of the year – Christmas. For the first time since the new ownership, this Christmas is a sell-out. Despite this time being long and hard hours, we really look forward to it.

"But apparently, certain individuals weren’t too happy to see that.

"We are heartbroken (among other words) to say that on Monday, November 20 at around 6am, we were 'visited' by a male and a female.'"

It's not known at this stage the future of the Santa Cruises events - with the company saying they are 'angered' by this incident, which has set them back. 

This is the second time that The Teesside Princess has been targeted in a matter of weeks.

The spokesperson added: "Smashing through one of our windows, they proceeded to steal over £500 worth of toys that were for our Santa Cruises, destroyed our entire office which included our gift bags for the Santa Cruises and stole all our alcohol.

"We’re not so bothered about the latter, we’re more irritated about the time and effort our office team put into making those bags for them to be destroyed for a laugh.

"Being a very small, locally owned business, during very trying times, this is exhausting. This has been the second break-in in the past two weeks.

"There’s a lot that we could and want to say, but for now, we could really do with some virtual hugs."

Police have been contacted for a comment.