Debenham: Police believe same burglars targeted leisure centre causing thousands of pounds worth of damage

The scene at Debenham Sports & Leisure after the ram-raid last October

The scene at Debenham Sports & Leisure after the ram-raid last October - Credit: Suzie Morley

POLICE believe a gang which caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to a leisure centre are the same criminals who targeted the facility last year.

Debenham Sports & Leisure centre was broken into for the second time in five months last week with thieves stealing a safe containing money raised from a recent fundraiser.

Last October the centre was ram-raided causing £21,000 worth of damage and police are linking the two burglaries.

Centre manager Steve Spurling said: “We are devastated again. Our customers are just as upset as we are, the centre is part of their legacy, at the end of the day they are part owners. The community feels this place is just as much for them as it is for us. It’s disappointing.

“We’ll get on and move forward and make sure the customers still have the service they expect. We estimate the damage and the loss of money to be somewhere in the region of £3,000 which includes replacing the safe. There was a lot less damage than before. We still had not repaired the doors from the last time they were here. They’ve damaged a reception door and a fire door.”

The centre is run by the Debenham Village Hall and Playing Field Trust charity and relies on grants and customer sales.

Debenham Roundabout Pre-School held a fundraising disco on March 8, three days before the burglary happened.

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About £600 of the proceeds from the night, which about 300 people attended, were in the stolen safe.

Jessica McKenna, pre-school secretary said: “Everyone put in a lot of time for the fundraiser. A lot of time was put into organising it. It’s a real shame that we have lost most of the ticket sales from the night. It was one of the biggest fundraising events the pre-school has had. We are all working mums and we put in so much time. It was a feel good night but it’s put such a dampener on it.”

She said a lot the takings which had come from pre-booked tickets had been unaffected.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk police said the burglary happened between 3.30am-4am on March 11.

She said: “We are reviewing CCTV images from the night. The investigation is ongoing and we believe the two crimes are linked.”

Police have said the offenders, who were between three-to-four in number and were wearing dark clothes, loaded a van with the safe before leaving the scene.

Police are appealing for any witnesses or anyone with information to contact them on 101. The centre has recently installed bollards and security gates to prevent ram-raids. Mr Spurling said he would talk to police about making further improvements to security.