RUGBY bosses are reeling after scrap thieves caused thousands of pounds of damage to floodlights – all for the sake of stealing metal worth just £10.
Hartlepool Rovers Rugby Club members are also seething after the theft put forthcoming games in jeopardy and caused training sessions to be cancelled.
The criminals sneaked into the club’s ground, in the town’s West View Road, and stole cable and starting units from the six floodlights which surround the pitch.
But officials only discovered the theft when they went to switch on the lights on Monday night and there was a loud bang followed by the lights failing.
Closer inspection revealed parts of the expensive floodlights, which cost £8,500 to install, had been stolen and police were called.
Now evening training sessions have been cancelled and the club is desperate to get the problem fixed before a charity match on Saturday, April 2, between Rovers and West Hartlepool Rugby Club.
Mick Brough, Rovers’ facilities director at the club, which was established in 1879, was fuming when he spoke to the Mail as this is the second time the lights have been targeted.
He said: “Enough is enough.
“Something needs to be done about the scrap situation in this town, it is appalling.
“We use the lights at least three times a week for training, kids training and games.
“The games possibly could be cancelled and the training sessions won’t be able to go ahead when it’s dark obviously.
“There’s thousands of pounds worth of damage there and I don’t know how on earth we are going to pay for this.
“We can’t claim off our insurance because the insurance is too high and we don’t get any funding from anywhere.
“We rely on good sponsors and when something like this happens it is disheartening.”
He added: “I want to speak out about this because it’s a joke. I know through friends and businesses in the town that they don’t even bother reporting scrap thefts any more because they’re so common, but something needs doing about this.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s out of control, it’s not being controlled and enough is enough.
“The people that have done this will get £10 or £20 for what they pinched and yet they’ve left us with thousands of pounds worth of damage. I’d have rather put a tenner in the post for them.”
As previously reported in the Mail, police have vowed to clampdown on scrap thieves after noting a huge rise in the number of thefts.
Patrols have been increased at various scrap locations across the town, though police chiefs have warned it will be a “long-term” operation and one which cannot be solved overnight.
A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said: “We received reports of a theft from Hartlepool Rovers Rugby Club and officers are currently investigating.”
Anyone with any information or any witnesses can contact PC Christopher Rigby on (01642) 302178 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.