THIEVES have been condemned for stealing play equipment worth £3,000 from a park in Huntingdon and leaving the site a danger to children.

Police believe offenders used professional cutting equipment to remove a slide and a curly corkscrew climber from the play area next to Sapley playing fields in Essex Road.

It is understood that the equipment was stolen for scrap metal sometime between 5pm on Friday, May 27 and Tuesday, May 31.

The incident comes in the wake of lead thefts from the Commemoration Hall, the Card Gallery, the boat club in Hartford Road and Huntingdon Football Association headquarters in St John’s Street.

The theft of the slide has left a 5ft-drop from a raised platform, which has since been chained off by the site’s owners, Huntingdonshire District Council.

District Councillor Jonathan Gray told The Hunts Post: “It is particularly distressing that the play area has been targeted in this way. Not only have children lost valuable play equipment, but they have also been put at risk from the hazardous state in which it has been left.”

The play area was created in 2006 to provide a facility for younger children.

Negotiations are currently taking place to replace the missing items, though the play area remains open.

Jo Wolstencroft, service development officer for HDC, said: “We want to emphasis it is not just the cost, it is the danger these people have left the area in. They have left a platform with nothing to come down, just a sheer drop.

“We are wary of putting the same thing back in. We cannot put back in like for like. But we will try to replace it, however, as soon as possible.”

There are hopes that someone may have seen the culprits making off with the equipment. The play area is bordered by homes on all sides.

Pc Andrew Moralee of Huntingdon police station, who is investigating, said: “Removing the items would have been a big job and we would like to hear from anyone who saw any suspicious activity in the park.”

INFORMATION: Anyone with information should call Pc Moralee on 0345 4564564 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.