Portsmouth school hit by £15,000 damage caused by lead theft

UPSET Headteacher Lisa Dunning at Langstone Junior School in Portsmouth, where thieves stole lead from a roof and then flooding caused thousands of pounds of damage to classrooms.   Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (113063-3)
UPSET Headteacher Lisa Dunning at Langstone Junior School in Portsmouth, where thieves stole lead from a roof and then flooding caused thousands of pounds of damage to classrooms. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (113063-3)

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PRIMARY school children face having lessons in their assembly hall next week after thieves stripped lead from their school roof – causing thousands of pounds of water damage.

Lisa Dunning, head of Langstone Junior School in Copnor, has condemned the callous act of vandalism which left three classrooms and a computer room exposed to torrential rainfall.

The thieves climbed up to the school building’s first floor to steal lead from above four skylight windows.

Mrs Dunning says it will cost at least £15,000 to repair warped ceilings, damaged computers and soaked furniture.

‘When I received the phone call from the caretaker at 8.30am on Friday I had visions of a few small leaks,’ she said.

‘But then when I arrived at the school 20 minutes later, I cried.

‘It looked as if there had been a burst pipe – the rain was literally gushing through the ceilings.

‘Our year four classrooms were completely destroyed. The carpets were soaking and the ceilings were bowed as there was so much water sitting on top.

‘In the ICT room next door, 10 out of 20 computers were completely ruined, as well as the chairs and furniture.

‘We will need a month to sort everything out, from getting in touch with the insurance company to finding contractors.

‘Realistically when the children come back we may have to move the year four classes into the hall or music room. It will affect around 80 pupils.’

Mrs Dunning said she hoped the theft would put others on high alert.

She added: ‘This is not a victimless crime. This is not just a building. It’s a place for our community’s children to feel happy and safe in and to learn.

‘Everybody wants September to be an exciting fresh start but this has cast a shadow over that.

‘Maybe it didn’t occur to the thieves that it would result in thousands of pounds of damage.

‘I don’t think any of that enters their minds, as they’re only out to make money.

Mrs Dunning said she would be reviewing school security after the theft on Thursday night.

A spokeswoman for Hampshire police said they were investigating the crime. Anyone with information can call police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

RECENT THEFTS

LANGSTONE Junior School has become the latest victim in a spate of metal thefts.

Six-year-old Aston Muff, who suffers from cerebral palsy, was left unable to get around when thieves stole his walking frame.

It was taken from his home in Harleston Road, Wymering, on August 12, at around 9.30am, as previously reported.

It is thought the walker was taken for scrap metal.

Metal thieves also took plaques from the civilian war memorial in Kingston Cemetery, Portsmouth.

The event caused distress to many related to those named on the plaques of honour.