A POPULAR charity for disabled sailors could be forced to close after thousands of pounds worth of radio-controlled models were stolen.
The Disabled Sailors Association (DSA) is a charity based in Cranleigh Road in Portchester, which provides sailing for 2,000 disabled people every year in its unique wheelchair-accessible yachts and dingies.
Fareham Models and Raceway, the DSA’s charity shop, raises funds by repairing and selling radio-controlled models of helicopters and model cars.
Sometime between Saturday lunchtime and Monday lunchtime, the property was broken into.
Thousands of pounds worth of damage was caused to the building and its doors and to the charity’s boats and equipment.
The models stolen were unique and valued at between £500 and £2,000 each.
It’s estimated that more than £20,000 of stock was stolen – and that figure doesn’t include the cost of damages to the site.
Mike Wood, chairman of the Disabled Sailors Association, said he fears the person who was involved in the burglary was known to the charity.
‘It’s a very unusual situation,’ he said.
‘They had to have known how to do it. Not very many people know where the camera system was and that was stolen as well.
‘We are a bit unusual in what we do. The whole organisation has been run by volunteers.
‘Everybody is so angry. It jeopardises the whole project.
‘Quite a lot of the items that have been stolen belonged to individuals. Unless they are covered by their house insurance, they’ve lost it.
‘It’s such a tragedy. I feel angry and physically sick.’
The charity has an indoor race track and people can hire radio-controlled model cars and race them there. Now, Mr Wood fears that the charity might be forced to close because there isn’t enough money to keep going.
‘It’s borderline whether we can keep going,’ he said.
‘It is possible we will have to close the model shop, and it puts our charity’s future in doubt as it will take months to find out the total of the losses and damage and remedy it.
‘It is very sad because everyone here is a volunteer.
‘As a charity we have got limited funds and this is the worst time of the year for us.
‘Any fundraising we do is in the early part of the year.
‘It’s heartbreaking. Our problem is if we run out of money we have to close.
‘This destroys your trust in people and kills any drive or enthusiasm. Most of the people we deal with don’t have any money. They would be sitting at home watching TV if it wasn’t for what we do.
‘If we can catch the person early enough we can get some of the stuff back then we stand a chance.’
Anyone with information is asked to contact Park Gate police station by phoning 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.