Vandals wreck children's Yateley play areaBy Laura Nightingale
February 20, 2013
CHILDREN as young as two became victims of crime when vandals targeted their pre-school playground in Yateley.
Smashed glass and damage to outdoor play equipment at Yateley Community Pre-School posed a danger to boys and girls and left the youngsters feeling distraught.
On the evening of Friday February 1, CCTV showed vandals entering the pre-school gardens in Cranford Park Drive and causing damage to the children’s wigwam and wooden post used for making dens, before stealing army camouflage netting and a thick rope used by the children as a swing.
A smashed beer bottle was left inside the wigwam, along with a black high-heeled shoe. A fire had been been lit, burning a hole in the roof, and there was burnt paper on the floor.
Janet Fane, pre-school manager, said: “These acts of vandalism cause upset to our children. The children loved the swing and are sad it is no longer there. As a pre-school we now have to find funds to repair and replace the damaged items.”
The vandalised equipment was first noted by a teacher during a routine safety check of the garden before the children went out to play.
It took about half-an-hour for staff to clear the glass, but their biggest concern was that if they had missed a sharp piece it would have been dangerous for the children kneeling and sitting down.
This is not the first time that the pre-school has encountered vandalism.
“We have had no problems over the past two years,” Mrs Fane said. “But in the past it was a regular occurrence every weekend and during the holidays with vandals damaging the school.
“Broken glass, bikes stolen, sheds broken into and even gates and bolts were stolen over the years. I could go on forever.
"But since we put a high fence around the school it has kept people from entering and we have been quiet since the school merged.”
She hoped that this recent event was “not the beginning of more to come”.
The popular rope swing will need to be replaced and the 7ft-tall wigwam needs to be fixed as it now lets in rain and this will soon rot the wood.
The school purchased the wigwam on January 7 last year after raising £400 for it and the rope swing was put up only eight months ago.
Rosemary Joyner, a parent at the school, said: “I was horrified that someone would commit mindless vandalism like this and have no regard for the effect it would have on the children.
"I am on the fundraising committee, and with a tight budget at the pre-school this is something we do not expect to factor in.”
Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to call Hampshire police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.