HARD-WORKING young cadets were left devastated and upset when they returned to their minibus after an enjoyable trip out only to find the window smashed and two of their bags stolen.
The group of sea cadets, aged eight to 18, from Training Ship Active MTC in Waterlooville, spent Friday evening at the indoor shooting range in Southsea.
They had parked their minibus in Hambrook Street and when the group returned, they found the window smashed and two bags had been taken.
One of the cadets, 14-year-old Lewis Triggs, said: ‘One of the cadets ran up to the minibus and saw the window was smashed.
‘We’d really enjoyed the night up until then, a few people got their marksmanship, and that kind of spoiled it.
‘It made us feel angry and shocked at the same time.’
One of the bags contained a football kit and the other had clothes for an overnight stay. One was a blue and red Adidas rucksack.
Iain Triggs, administration officer, said: ‘I would like the person who has done this to know that this is kids who have been targeted – kids who have worked really hard. If someone sees this and knows who has done it, hopefully they will come forward, or at the very least feel guilty.’
The cadets are an independent naval cadet unit based in St George’s Church Hall in Waterlooville.
The group receives no funding and the cadets held a variety of activities over the past two years to raise £12,000 to replace their aging minibus, which they finally achieved and bought in July.
Mr Triggs said: ‘I cannot believe that anyone can sink so low as to steal from young cadets who have worked so hard to achieve what these youngsters have.
‘This has left many of them really quite distressed and shocked.
‘They are such a great bunch of kids, and they had all worked so hard to replace the minibus in the first place, it felt like a personal attack against the youngsters.’
As well as the upset of having the bags taken, the minibus was unusable that night, leaving the youngsters out in the cold and having to find alternative ways of getting home with volunteers.
The £600-worth of damage to the minibus was due to be repaired today, however the bags cannot be claimed under the insurance – leaving the cadets out of pocket.
The theft happened between 6pm and 8pm on Friday. Anybody with information is asked to call police on 101, quoting reference 44160022394.