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Anger as "mindless" yobs flood Lakenham community hall

PUBLISHED: 12:00 27 June 2011

Old Lakenham Community Centre broken into and vandalised. Bishop Peter Fox.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Old Lakenham Community Centre broken into and vandalised. Bishop Peter Fox. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2011

The actions of yobs who broke into a community hall in the city, damaged doors and stole copper pipes from sinks before turning on all the taps to flood the building, have been branded as "sickening" and "mindless".

Users of the Old Lakenham Community Centre, in Harwood Road, Lakenham, only discovered the break-in – the second in less than a week – when they turned up to find the floor covered in up to two inches of water.

The centre, which is run by St John the Baptist Church, in Harwood Road, is open again after a massive clean-up operation by volunteers, but it is thought that the entire floor might yet have to be replaced.

Bishop Peter Fox, vicar of Lakenham and Tuckswood, said the break-in has left the community reeling coming just two days after a raid in which doors had been broken and petty cash stolen.

He said: “It was a nasty sort of affair really. We found it had been broken into again and the pipes in a number of the sinks broken. They turned the taps on so the place was all flooded.

“There’s a lot of damage in terms of doors being broken and the floor’s probably going to have to be replaced because it will have water underneath it.

“It was a very crude break-in. There was nothing sort of complicated or professional about it. It really seems to be a matter of wilful damage. It’s an awful lot of damage to do for things that aren’t really going to benefit the crooks very much.”

Petty cash and an old television were also taken following the break-in at the centre, which is used by a number of groups in the community including rainbows, brownies, guides, adult education classes, a cocker spaniel club, flower arranging club and an over 60s club.

The crime has been condemned by Rev Simon Ward, the Bishop of Norwich’s chaplain, who said it is the whole community that suffered as a result.

He said: “There’s something quite sickening about it – it’s wilful damage. To actually have this wilful desire of vandalism with it as well, just not to only take but to disrupt and cause misery to others, is quite unpalatable.

“It’s another case of when crime happens, once again it’s the community that pays the price. The groups using the hall and volunteers have to clear up the mess and the whole community have to then get it fixed and then everyone pays the price because insurance premiums are pushed up. It just affects the morale of our communities.”

Richard Webb, church warden, who helped to clean up the mess following the break-in said they are determined not to let the “mindless” people responsible for the crime to win.

He said: “We were determined to get it cleared as fast as possible so it didn’t disrupt all the groups that use it.”

Police are appealing for information about the crime, during which copper piping and audio equipment was stolen, which happened some time between 5.15pm on Friday, June 17 and 9am the next day.

Anyone with information should call police on 0845 456 4567.

Have you got a crime story? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

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