Nursery staff left in tears after thieves cause thousands of pounds of damage to childcare centre

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STAFF have been left ‘devastated’ after thieves caused thousands of pounds worth of damage during a break-in at a pre-school nursery in Park Gate.

Staff at the Futurepath Childcare Centre arrived this morning to find doors and cupboards smashed and items, including children’s work, strewn across the floor. The thieves took iPods, iPads, laptops and a set of tools.

Nursery Manager, Katie Hillcock, was the person first to discover the break-in. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Nursery Manager, Katie Hillcock, was the person first to discover the break-in. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Director Peter Barnett said: ‘I’m absolutely devastated. I can understand items being stolen but to cause such damage is simply mindless vandalism.’

His wife Jacky added: ‘Filing cabinets were smashed and staff lockers broken into. They’d even been into the nursery and thrown things around. One of the doors wasn’t even locked but they’ve smashed it off the wall anyway.’

The first person to arrive at the scene was nursery manager, Katie Hillcock.

‘When I first arrived I thought it was a little unusual as the back door was open. Once I realised the door had been smashed I was fearful of going in as I didn’t know if anyone was still in the building.

Damage left by the burglars in the Childcare offices.

Damage left by the burglars in the Childcare offices.

‘When other members of staff arrived we went in and found the place completely ransacked. My initial reaction was to burst into tears. Our main job is to keep the children safe and so when something like this happens it’s really upsetting.’

The owners estimate the cost of damage and items stolen to be about £18,000.

‘They also stole money from the petty cash safe which was worth thousands of pounds. Even with what is covered by the insurance the nursery is going to be out of pocket by around £8,000,’ said Peter.

The centre cares for and educates about 150 children between three months and five-years-old, and staff are particularly upset that thieves would target a nursery.  

Owners Jacky and Peter Barnett alongside one of the many broken doors in the building. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Owners Jacky and Peter Barnett alongside one of the many broken doors in the building. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘As soon as they entered the building they would have known it was a nursery and it’s sickening to think they still carried on,’ said Jacky.

Hampshire police have asked anyone with information to come forward.

A police statement said: ‘At some time between 6pm on 22 June and 7am on 24 June offenders forced entry to Futurepath Childcare Centre in Parkgate.  Petty cash and electronic devices were stolen. Anyone with information should call police on 101 quoting 44190216930.’

Cupboards and filing cabinets were ransacked.

Cupboards and filing cabinets were ransacked.