Community centre staff left devastated after heartless thief breaks in and steals from poorly teenager
Staff at a community centre in Jarrow have been left heartbroken after the centre was broken into for a second time in recent weeks.
Hedworthfield Community Association, based on the Fellgate Estate, was broken into at 7:55am today, Saturday, January 6.
Items stolen included Â£55 in cash and six bottles of wine, which were being used as raffle prizes for a teenager battling a brain tumor.
Brogan Shanley, from Hedworth, is set to travel to Jacksonville, Florida, in the coming weeks to have NHS-funded proton beam treatment over the course of 10 weeks after being diagnosed in December.
This is the second time the centre has been the victim of a break in in recent months, having been broken into last year and most recently on Christmas Eve, with intruders causing damage to the buildings.
Centre manager Christine Green is heartbroken over the incident, which took place in the building used by Monkton and Hedworth Gymnastics and Hed Fit gym, run by Heather Mackie.
She said: "I am totally gutted. I had a phone call this morning to say that we have had a second break in within two weeks and this time the gentleman has come through the sports hall fire door and caused quite a lot of damage.
"He has also stolen money and wine which was for a charity for a local girl who is very poorly.
"I have been here for 20 years and we have taken it on since April 1, so I am really upset, I haven't got the words to say, I am just so upset about it."
CCTV footage from the community association shows a man wearing a black jacket with a grey stripe, and Nike Air trainers leave his bike outside of the fire door before using a crowbar to break in.
Centre staff say he then proceeded to damage the door of the cafe area, the Hed Fit gym and the door to the gymnastics office upstairs in the building which he ransacked.
While inside the building he also stole boxing gloves, a speaker and sports bag, filling carrier bags and stuffing his coat with the items before cycling away.
Labour councillor Geraldine Kilgour, who is chairwoman of the association, has spoken of her anger following the theft.
She said the incident lasted just 20 minutes, but the damage caused will amount to thousands of pounds.
The councillor continued: "The incident has caused significant damage to the gymnastics office and seven fire doors.
"The damage they have caused is absolutely horrendous. This may have knocked us, but it won't destroy us.
"We are determined to make it bigger and better as the community needs it."
Cash is not kept on the community centre premises - but a small amount of funds, which had been raised to help the Brogan's family pay for living costs when they are in the States, had been locked away.
Brogan's devastated mum Ingrid Shanley, 49, has been left distraught by the theft and added: "It is absolutely shocking.
"The community association had been helping to raise money for Brogan who is going to America for treatment as it will help us when she is out there as we will be away for 10 weeks it will cover living costs.
"Everyone has been fantastic with helping us raise the funds, so this is absolutely shocking as it is taking away from people who need it most."
A Northumbria Police spokesman confirmed that inquiries into the incident were ongoing and asked anyone with information to contact police on 101 quoting reference number 0230 06/01/18.