thieves have stolen lead from the roof of a newly-opened centre which supports people with life-limiting illnesses.
The culprits were caught on CCTV outside the Rowans Living Well Centre, which is part of the hospice in Purbrook.
The centre, on Purbrook Heath Road, was officially opened less than three weeks ago and hospice chief executive Ruth White has branded the act despicable.
She said: ‘We felt absolutely sickened and appalled when realising the centre had been targeted.
‘From CCTV footage it would seem this was a planned theft, with the thieves accessing the site from a public footpath rather than using the main entrance.
‘The Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire opened the centre earlier this month; it had been a tremendous celebration marking another development in supporting families who are living with a life-limiting and progressive illness.
We felt absolutely sickened and appalled when realising the centre had been targeted.Ruth White
‘All the staff and volunteers have worked so hard to develop this new service and our community have raised the majority of the funding to build the centre. This makes this all so despicable and really very upsetting for us all.’
The lead was stolen from the roof overnight between Wednesday and Thursday.
Ms White said their facilities supervisor discovered a large strip of lead close to the building. She added: ‘Immediately it was obvious that someone had climbed onto the roof to steal over half of the lead cladding.
‘The fact that not all the lead had been taken and one strip had been abandoned, is possibly because the thieves may have been disturbed and left the building before they had stripped it completely.’
The Rowans Hospice had installed CCTV cameras, costing £5,000, a few weeks ago after garden ornaments were damaged.
In light of the recent theft they will now also ask for extra surveillance by police and their security company which could cost up to £3,500.
The cost of repair to the roof could also run into the thousands. Ms White said: ‘We have been informed the lead is likely only to raise a couple of hundred pounds as scrap, however the cost to us to repair and restore the roof could run into thousands.’
A spokesman from Hampshire police said they were carrying out enquiries.
He added: ‘We have received a report that between 6.40pm on May 24 and 7.30am May 25 a quantity of lead was stolen from the roof of a building at The Rowans Hospice.
‘Anyone who witnessed the incident, or saw anyone acting suspiciously in this area overnight, should police on 101 quoting 44170196313.’