THIEVES targeted a care home and stole fencing from its garden.
The crooks struck at Stockton Lodge residential home, in Seaham, during the night and took sections of fence and railings from a decked area.
The theft means the 39 residents at the home cannot enjoy the landscaped area outside their door because of safety concerns.
Wheelchairs can no longer be pushed on to the decking area due to the risk they may fall off.
The timber had been fitted at the home as part of a Government project to improve the outdoor facilities in communities.
Linda Norman, the home’s manager, said: “I think it’s absolutely deplorable.
“It’s the elderly they are affecting. It doesn’t affect anyone else.”
Police have appealed for help to track down the thieves after carrying out house-to-house inquiries in the area.
The home is now facing the task of claiming the cost back from insurers for the sections to be replaced.
The incident will add to the cost of the project bosses have planned for the area’s revamp in coming months.
The theft happened sometime between Tuesday, May 15, and the Wednesday morning, when it was discovered by staff.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Durham Constabulary on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.