Sickening raid on South Shields charity sees thieves steal £8,000 of equipment

A charity has vowed to fight back and beat burglars who broke into its community garden to steal thousands of pounds of essential electrical goods in a sickening overnight raid.

By Gareth Crickmer
Thursday, 4th April 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 4th April 2019, 8:29 am
David Johnson, right, with other members of the Green Hope Alloments group.
David Johnson, right, with other members of the Green Hope Alloments group.

Bosses at NECA, which runs Greenhope Oasis at allotments in Brockley Avenue, South Shields, say they are devastated by the £8,000 theft which was uncovered at 7.30am yesterday.

Raiders scaled a 7ft-high metal boundary security fence before breaking into a steel security hut, making off with two generators and power and hand tools. They event took screws and nails.

David Johnson looking at damge left after break in at Green Hope Alloments.

Louise Peaker, NECA’s development manager, said staff and volunteers would rebuild – and pledged to reopen by Monday to welcome the first of 150 children booked in for outdoor Easter holiday activities.

She said: “It’s devastating. We are a charity and they have taken the resources that we need, everything is gone.

“We don’t have contracts or a lot of money. We need these tools to sustain us. It’s all gone but we will not let this beat us down. We are a community garden and we are not going to close our doors or give up. We will get back on our feet.”

She added: “Whoever did this has come prepared. They must have had a vehicle with them to take all this stuff.

“I’m hoping that local businesses and tool hire centres will help us out by lending us the tools we need to carry on.”

NECA senior worker Dave Johnson, 63, who manages the 15 plot allotment site, added: “This is really upsetting, it’s horrendous. We will carry on, they won’t stop us.”

The culprits broke in between around 5pm on Tuesday and 7.30am on Wednesday, when volunteer Brian Smith arrived to open up.

He found the security fence untouched but the container and other shed buildings broken into, with raiders also taking a music system used in activities.

Newcastle-based NECA, which supports people with substance and gambling misuse issues, is now examining ways to improve security.

It has been contacted by a South Tyneside businessman with an offer of help around installing a CCTV system.

The community garden, which supports children and other visitors to learn about gardening and the outdoors, has been open for around 20 years.

Northumbria Police confirmed it is investigating.

Detectives say enquiries are ongoing and urged anyone with information to contact them by calling 101 and quoting reference number 217 03/04/19.