THIEVES have left a Scout group thousands of pounds out of pocket.
First Peterlee Scout Group discovered its base in Lowhills Road had been targeted by yobs who broke their way in through the building’s roof.
They then stole tents, camping gear, catering items, craft items, tools and archery equipment.
The kit has taken years to build up and has left the group without the essentials they need to run activities, with the cost of replacing the sports items put at up to £500 alone.
While an insurance claim is being put in, leaders say they will still be hit in the pocket through increased premiums.
The break-in, which was carried out after the thieves made a series of visits to remove nuts and bolts from the metal roof, was found as one of its groups returned from a weekend camping trip.
Andrew Cowey, one of the pack’s leaders who also teaches English and is head of Year 7 at Dene Community School, Peterlee, said: “The kids are devastated by it and upset.
“They’ve said it’s a shame and disgusting because they know someone has been through their things.
“We’ve put so much time and effort into it all and with the archery equipment for example, we assign two or three of them to a kit, so they have responsibility for it and look after it and now it’s gone.
“This is a long-running Scout group, I came here when I was growing up, and the equipment they have taken has been built up over the years and with the help of money from the community.
“Only last year we raised money to get the roof fixed.
“Funds are tight as it is, but with thousands of pounds worth of equipment gone and a roof to repair, it could be detrimental to the group and the community.”
Locks on the building and additional security measures have already been installed since the burglary at the weekend.
An online appeal to replace items has been launched via www.fundrazr.com.
Peterlee Town Council member Stephen Miles, who represents the Acre Rigg ward for the Fair Peterlee party, said: “I was flabbergasted when I heard what had happened. Who would want to do something like this to the kids?”
The group has 18 Beavers, who are aged from six to eight, 15 Cubs, who are aged up to 10 years and six months, and 30 Scouts.
Call Durham Constabulary with information on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.