THIEVES who stole a charity’s outdoor equipment and caused damage have been branded ‘the lowest of the low’.
Last night three off-road buggies, helmets and archery equipment were stolen from The Friday Night Club’s outdoor container at Knowle Haven in Mayles Lane, Fareham.
The charity, which began as a monthly disco at Wallington Village Hall, provides activities for people with learning disabilities and/or mental health issues.
Group founder and CEO Geoff Knipe said: ‘‘We are devastated by what has happened after all our hard work fundraising to buy the buggies and equipment.
‘The most popular activities are the off-roading and the archery and it is difficult to see how the charity will continue in the short-term. Our clients are upset as their outdoor activities are the highlight of their week.
‘There have been a lot of tears this morning about this and it is clear that these people have tried very hard to steal our equipment as a grinder had been used to get in the gate, the security camera had been knocked off the wall and I am not even sure how they got into the container.
‘These people really are the lowest of the low.’
Over the last six months the Friday Night Club has been working with the Land Trust to develop facilities at Knowle Haven to host the outdoor activities.
The club had laid a track for the buggies, erected a marquee to house the archery activities during the winter and is currently fundraising to build an accessible toilet block at Knowle Haven.
Geoff said: ‘This theft is a tremendous set-back. The charity is still counting the cost of the theft and damage but it will be over £10,000.
‘This is devastating news, as we have all worked so hard to get where we have today and it has now taken away opportunities for the people we support.
‘Words cannot describe how we are feeling but we will not let this define us.’
A police spokesman said: ‘We can confirm that we have received a report of a burglary on Mayles Lane in Knowle.
‘At some point between 10pm on Thursday, October 25 and 7.30am this morning someone broke into an onsite container belonging to The Friday Night Club, which provides leisure activities to adults with learning difficulties, mental health issues, and disabilities.
‘Items stolen include three buggies, fifteen crash helmets, archery bows and arrows, and tools. The total value of the items is more than £10,000.
‘Officers are investigating and enquiries are under way.’
Anyone with information or who saw anything suspicious in the area should call police on 101 quoting 44180402436.
Councillor Katrina Trott is a trustee of the charity.
She added: ‘I am totally devastated and appalled that uncaring vandals have stolen all the equipment.
‘This was something that the young people will miss dreadfully.’
To donate towards the charity replacing the equipment visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/FNCorg/