Security is to be stepped up at a South Tyneside project supporting people with disabilities.
Staff and volunteers at Holder House Project in Whiteleas were left outraged when they found the allotment site had been ransacked by thieves.
Thousands of pounds worth of power tools - including a generator, lawn mowers, strimmers, saws and wood for a current project - have been stolen. The overnight raid, discovered last Thursday, also caused hundreds of pounds worth of damage to the site.
It has left service users unable to carry on with a project to create a decking area as they await tools to be replaced.
The site has been visited by representatives from South Tyneside Council and the police to see how the area can be made more secure.
Coun for Whiteleas Ernest Gibson, who has supported the project since it was first launched said: “What has happened is horrendous.
“The site has been opened up to those who access it, but the activities they can carry out have been limited due to the equipment being stolen.
“The project is currently working with partners at the council and the police and we are doing all we can to help make the site even more secure than it already was. “
Coun Gibson added: “This has had a huge impact on those who use the site - many who have learning and physical disabilities - who can’t understand why people would be so cruel.
“The project brings a lot of enjoyment to a lot of people and it left many extremely upset.”
“The project brings a lot of enjoyment to a lot of people and it left many extremely upset.”Coun Ernest Gibson
Holder House Allotment Project has been running since 2008 and offers places for people – including those with learning and physical disabilities, the elderly and local schools – to go and learn about horticulture. The aim is to boost their confidence as well as their gardening skills.
The theft also hit a nerve with readers who took to our social media sites in a show of disgust.
KPx posted: “Scumbags! Absolute scumbags! Just enjoy twisting the knife to people who are already suffering!
Hope you get caught and shamed and hope the public then please themselves in the backlash they receive - like you have pleased and helped yourselves to other people’s belongings and ruined a special place for many people!!”
Coleen Bolam wrote: “What an absolute disgrace, my nephew attends here and it is his life line, they put so much work in. I hope they catch these pieces of scum.”
Margaret Normandale said: “So heartbreaking, thieving scumbags!”
Amanda Taylor Saunders posted: “Senseless and mindless if caught they deserve flogging!!”
Anyone able to help the project get back on its feet through donations of tools and materials is asked to contact project manager Chris Convery on 07824 560 147.
Anyone with information or who have been offered any tools for sale is asked to contact police on 101.