Thieves break into Portsmouth church and steal £2,400 meant to fund a party for disabled people in Portsmouth
CALLOUS crooks have left a disabilities group ‘absolutely heartbroken’ after stealing thousands of pounds meant for a post-pandemic reunion party.
Yobs ransacked the coffers of Creative Advances day centre during a destructive raid on the Buckland United Reformed Church, in Buckland, Portsmouth, over the weekend.
Smashing through a window, thieves kicked their way into rooms, ripping open doors and cupboards before finding Creatives’ locked-away savings of £2,414.20 and stealing it.
The money had been tirelessly collected by the group during lockdown to fund a masquerade ball for up to 100 disabled adults in Southsea in September.
Now, the social celebration’s fate hangs in the balance and could be cancelled if the charity can’t somehow find a way to drum up more cash.
News of the theft was revealed to heartbroken members of the day centre on yesterday morning.
Faye Dine, service manager of Creative Advances, said: ‘We are just devastated. I have spoken to my service users who raised the money and they are absolutely heartbroken.
‘There were some incredibly sad faces this morning when we had to tell our service users about the theft.
‘Everyone had really been looking forward to the ball. People had worked so hard to raise all the money. Now it’s all gone. It’s absolutely awful.’
Detectives believe the raiders entered the church between 4pm on Friday and 8am on Saturday.
The crooks then fled from one of the building’s side doors out into Queens Road.
A spokeswoman for Hampshire police added: ‘No-one was at the church when the burglary took place and no-one was injured.’
Faye believes the thieves may have been disturbed by the caretaker, who had arrived earlier than usual on Saturday and called her shortly after.
Speaking of when she arrived at the scene and witnessed the damage, Faye said: ‘It was chilling. We walked in and saw everything broken, splinters of wood on the floor. They had kicked in a panel on a door.
‘They had left laptops and cameras in a pile on the floor so I think they were going to take them too but they must have been disturbed.
‘It’s shocking to think someone would go and do this and it makes you angry.’
Faye has now appealed to the Portsmouth community to help to make sure the ball goes ahead at Southsea’s Royal Beach Hotel.
She added: ‘This event is so important. These service users have not been out to any social events for 18 months. There are people here that haven’t seen their friends for over a year. This would have been a reunion for them.
‘I want to say thank you to everyone that has already supported this event but if they could dig a little deeper and make sure it does go ahead, it would mean the world to us.’
Those with information about the break-in should call police on 101, quoting reference number 44210251174.