ROTTEN thieves stole a crop of apples grown to bake pies for war heroes.
The brazen crooks scrambled over fences, picked the fruit and made off with a haul of 500 apples.
Volunteer fund-raisers had hoped to use their latest crop to make and sell pies in aid of the Help the Heroes charity.
But their efforts have been ruined after they were left with just one apple.
Ann Owen, from Houghton Racecourse Community Access Point, said: “We’re so disappointed. This was the best crop of apples we’ve ever had.”
The trees had been nurtured by 81-year-old gardener, Dempster Smith, who, along with volunteers from the Access Point, had been looking forward to harvesting the crop.
Ann said regulars planned to use their coffee morning this month to sell their slices of pie, made from their own fruit, knowing they were also raising money for such a worthy cause.
She said: “This is a community project and we are all volunteers and when things like this happen it does make you wonder why you bother.
“We also have an allotment, which the children from Gillas Lane Primary School use to grow vegetables, and a few months ago the cabbages and sprouts were stolen from there.
“We just want to shame these people who do this sort of thing.
“We wanted to raise more money for Help For Heroes which we fully support, this will be the second coffee morning we have had with the proceeds going to charity and we also make up Christmas parcels for the troops each year.”
The community centre is a valuable asset to the people in the area, providing play groups, youth activities and computer access for people to job seek and write CVs.
Ann said the thieves must have climbed into the community point’s award-winning garden sometime between Friday evening and Wednesday morning this week, when someone noticed the apples had all gone.
But the group refuse to be beaten by the thieves and are pressing ahead with the coffee morning on Wednesday, October 19 from 10am to noon, apple pies or no apple pies.