BURGLARS broke into an army cadet hut and stole a collection of silver trophies belonging to teenagers and left the detachment with a £1,000 repair bill.

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Thieves smashed several doors and windows as they ransacked the ACF Cadet Centre in Westwood Road, St Ives, taking hundreds of pounds of equipment including a recently-purchased overhead projector, worth £250, as well as £100 of sweets and snacks and a £100 army rucksack.

Lynn Biddle, whose 16-year-old son Matthew Lath attends the centre on Wednesday evenings, was walking past on Sunday (January 6) when she noticed a pallet leading up to a window where the offenders had forced entry.

When she called her niece Lesley Groves and her partner Mike, who are both volunteer adult leaders at the St Ives Detachment, they went inside and discovered the extent of the damage.

Luckily the criminals didn’t manage to break into the cadets’ big iron chests, which were locked, but did cause enough damage to mean they will have to be replaced.

The group believes the break-in could have happened any time between December 18, when the squadron last met before Christmas, and January 6.

Police have appealed for any witnesses to the incident to come forward.

Mrs Biddle, who lives in Westwood Road, said: “It is so unfair on the young people. In this day and age, when youngsters are constantly getting a bad name, it is a disgrace that so many good kids will have to suffer because of this.

“They had to raise the money to buy this equipment and they will now have to go out and raise it again. They won’t be able to just go out and buy new stuff.”

She added that her son had been “really upset” by the raid but said he and his colleagues “most definitely won’t let something like this put them down”.

“They may be disappointed to begin with but will brush themselves off and start again. They have got a military mentality drilled into them,” said Mrs Biddle.

She has appealed to members of the public to donate items to the youngsters to replace the items stolen.

INFORMATION: Call Cambridgeshire police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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