Thieves destroy children's Christmas Tree

A CHRISTMAS tree decorated by children was dragged across a field and festive gifts were stolen during a burglary in St Neots. Thieves caused more than £10,000 worth of damage after forcing their way into Little Paxton Village Hall through a rear fire do

A CHRISTMAS tree decorated by children was dragged across a field and festive gifts were stolen during a burglary in St Neots.

Thieves caused more than £10,000 worth of damage after forcing their way into Little Paxton Village Hall through a rear fire door between 8pm on December 7 and 8am the following day.

Once inside they pulled doors from cupboards, tipped over a fridge, smashed glasses and bottles and damaged beer pumps. They also stole bottles of coke and bags of crisps and sweets belonging to the village's junior football teams.

A Christmas tree that had been decorated by children at Little Paxton-School was dragged outside the hall and dumped in a nearby field. Raffle prizes including Christmas puddings and yule logs that had been underneath the tree and had been donated to the pre-school were stolen.

Bev Elliot, manager of Little Paxton Pre-School, said the children had worked hard to make their own decorations for the tree and seeing the tree damaged in a field had been "heartbreaking" for her. She told The Hunts Post they had been inundated with goodwill gestures once news of the break-in had spread round the village. "Once parents and residents heard what had happened they were fantastic. Those who had already made donations to the pre-school, donated again."

One parent even arrived with a replacement tree and another with decorations.

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"It has been lovely seeing everyone pull together to make Christmas special for the children," added Mrs Elliot.

The raffle prizes donated will be raffled to raise money for the pre-school.

Julie Bolton, secretary of the village hall management committee and her partner spent the weekend cleaning up the hall. They had to cancel two birthday parties, a dance class and football training because of the damage caused. The hall is now operating as normal.

This is the third time the hall has been targeted by thieves in four months. On November 30 vandals broke in, stealing a fire extinguisher and then dumping it a few streets away and in August thieves forced their way into the hall and stolen soft drinks.

Derek Eyres, treasury of the Little Paxton Village Hall Committee, said he suspected youths were to blame for the break-ins. He said: "There have been a spate of thieves at the hall and we have seen youngsters gathering on the green near the building."

The village hall committee had invested in CCTV recording equipment in a bid to keep the hall safe. Unfortunately, when the thieves struck the cameras had been removed for repairs.

INFORMATION: Anyone with information is asked to contact the central division help desk on 0845 45645654 quoting crime reference number CF0669491207 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111. Anyone wanting to make a donation to Little Paxton Pre-School can phone 01480 475921.

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