Children 'devastated' as toys stolen and play area vandalised
- Credit: Mick Howes
Heartless vandals smashed wooden planters, damaged play equipment and stole toys after breaking into the garden of a nursery school.
Children and staff were left "devastated" after thieves broke into the garden at the YMCA Childcare St. Margaret’s Road setting in Lowestoft last month.
Having only unveiled a brand new play area last September, shocked staff were left reeling after numerous items were stolen and considerable damage was caused at some point between 9am on April 23 and 8pm on April 26.
Police said access was gained to the outdoor play area after someone climbed over the fence.
A police spokesman said: "A number of items were stolen, including a child-sized red, waterproof leather sofa and large hollow wooden blocks.
"Attempts were made to remove the slide from a wooden climbing frame, which were unsuccessful but caused damage to the structure."
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Staff said that the sofa had been stolen from the children’s ‘Story Den’, along with bikes and a range of other toys.
Planters in the garden were damaged along with a climbing frame which was voted for by the children when asked what they would like to see in the outdoor setting.
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Bethany Nichols, Childcare Manager at YMCA Trinity Group, said: “We were devastated to discover the incident – not only did we have sad staff members, but also very sad children who weren’t able to play with their toys.
“Some of the children who attend our setting don’t have access to a garden at home - the children absolutely love spending time out there!”
Since the break-in, staff at the nursery have been overwhelmed by the community response as people rally round to help or offer donations.
An online fundraiser was also set up by a parent, Jessica Hockings, whose son Ryder attends the nursery.
It has already received more than £300 in donations, with all money raised going towards replacing the toys and equipment and improving security measures in the garden.
Mrs Nichols added: “Special thanks must go to Gary Bennett of Lauren Lou fundraising, Danny Woolston on behalf of the Brainwave Independence Group charity, Lisa Oakley, Jade Burnham, Emma Louisa, Tilly Hunt, Jessica Hockings and her son Ryder - all have gone above and beyond with their support for us.”
The police investigation has been finalised pending any further information coming to light, but witnesses are urged to contact Suffolk Police quoting 37/21100/21 via 101.