TODDLERS have been left heartbroken by a thief who stole their £600 playhouse before they’d even had a chance to use it.
Seascape Sure Start Children’s Centre, in Peterlee, had only had the house for one day when the crook struck.
The thief also took a wooden ornamental bridge, a kids’ picnic table, shrubs the children had planted and two small benches in a haul worth about £1,000.
Kelly Walton, nursery manager, said: “The children hadn’t even had a chance to play in the house because it hadn’t been sealed with wood preservative. The opportunity for them has been taken away now.
“The children are gutted. They had seen it on Monday and the next morning they came in and saw a blank space. They are really disappointed. The garden is a big part of their play. You can see the spade marks where the thieves dug the shrubs up.
“We’re going to have a garden party for the Royal Wedding to cheer them up and they’ve put a few more plants in.
“I just can’t think of the words. The staff here are devastated because they saw the looks on the children’s faces.”
The offence took place between Monday night and Tuesday morning at the centre in Ellison Road. Police are studying CCTV footage of the offender dismantling the shed using what they believe is a crowbar.
Pc Neil Johnson, of Peterlee Police, said: “This Sure Start centre is used by lots of children in the area. It’s very popular.
“Staff put a lot of time and effort into making it a fun place for the children to go to.
“The items that were taken were more or less brand new and obviously there’s been a lot of disappointed children and staff that discovered the items were missing.
“We’d urge anyone who saw anything suspicious to contact us, or if they know the person responsible.”
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Pc Johnson on 0845 6060365 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.