Staff and volunteers 'saddened' after Stevenage community centre burglary
PUBLISHED: 15:53 16 January 2020 | UPDATED: 12:04 22 January 2020
Workers and volunteers at a Stevenage community centre have been left "shocked and saddened" following an overnight burglary between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
The Hampson Park Community Centre and Coffee Shop, which opened in 2016, was broken into as offenders managed to bend a shutter open and smash a window.
Staff gathered at the centre in Webb Rise for a general meeting on Wednesday, however were met with news of the break-in.
Manager Sally Fletcher said: "I'm the one who started the community centre.
"It's quite upsetting. Just when you feel you're just getting somewhere and building your business up, something like this happens.
"We're a charity - a community coffee shop.
"It's popular and we have our regulars and we have just put in the kids corner which is proving popular.
"When you hear the word 'trashed', your mind goes to all sorts of places. The journey into work felt like it was taking forever.
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"We can't use our till because it's been damaged, but we were grateful that they didn't trash the whole place - we were quite lucky in the circumstances.
"Whoever it was would have had to brave the awful wind and rain we had that night."
The community centre is a charity, making its money through hiring out the facilities and holding fundraisers.
It also selects a 'charity of the month', collecting change for local organisations.
This month, they were raising money for the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance.
The charity box was taken, but found discarded close to the centre with the cash still inside.
A police spokeswoman told the Comet: "It is believed the suspects accessed the premises between 9pm on Tuesday, January 14, and 8am on Wednesday, January 15.
"An untidy search had taken place, and several things were found to be missing - including a CCTV box, a mobile phone and some cash.
"Enquiries are ongoing at this stage.
"Anyone who witnessed the incident, or who believes they may have information which they think could assist with the investigation, is asked to contact the non-emergency number 101 or report information online at herts.police.uk/report, quoting crime reference 41/4347/20."