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‘Mindless’ intruders slammed over community centre raid

BLAST ... Brian Hoyle with one of the doors that was damaged during in a break-in at Barnes Institute, Whitburn.

BLAST ... Brian Hoyle with one of the doors that was damaged during in a break-in at Barnes Institute, Whitburn.

‘Mindless’ intruders have been blasted after breaking into a popular community centre in South Tyneside.

Police have launched an appeal for information after raiders forced their way into the Barnes Institute, in East Street, Whitburn, damaging three doors at the community-run building.

The offenders made off empty-handed – and the generosity of bosses at a gym housed in the venue mean the doors have already been fixed.

Brian Hoyle, who volunteers at the cafe in the institute and is chairman of Whitburn Village Residents’ Association, said: “It is mindless. The people who did it may well have families who come here and use the facility.

“They got in through the back door and looks like they used screwdrivers to get into a cupboard and the cafe.

“Nothing was taken, not even a chocolate bar or a drink.

“Our members would have had to pay for the damage but, thankfully, the people who run the gym have fixed the doors.

“Hundreds of people use the building every week. We have dance groups, karate and hold meetings here.”

The break-in is believed to have happened between 7.50pm on Monday and 9.50am on Tuesday.

A Northumbria Police spokesman said; “A number of doors were forced, causing them to be damaged. Nothing was stolen during the burglary.

“Officers are carrying out inquiries into the break-in and are asking anyone who saw anyone seemingly suspicious in the area to contact them.

“Any witnesses should contact Northumbria Police on 101 ext 69191 quoting reference 597 060514 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

The Barnes Institute was set up in 1905 and is open to a host of community groups six days a week.

Groups pay rent for the use of the building, with the funds going to a committee of members which oversees the running of the building.

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