Thieves who slashed off part of a nursery's newly astro turfed school yard creating a £1,500 repair bill have left youngsters heartbroken and their teachers furious.
Between 6pm last night and this morning, yobs got into Our Lady of the Rosary RC Primary in Westway, Peterlee, and used a knife to slice away a 20metre section of the material.
The cost of the damage is estimated to be around £1,500, with the fake grass only laid last week as part of a £30,000 revamp of the yard paid for by the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle.
The damage meant nursery and reception class children could not play out in today's snowfall, with children and their parents asked to use another route into the building so the crime scene was not disturbed, causing upset to the youngsters' routine.
Headteacher David Swift said: "The caretaker left just after 6pm and came in and saw it this morning.
"A wheelie bin had been moved which made him think there was something not right and then he saw the nursery courtyard.
"Nothing else has been touched.
"We had been given the money by the diocese to carry out improvements, because it wasn't the best area for the children and it was just finished.
"It was brilliant and the kids loved it.
"Then, this has happened and someone's cut a great big chunk out of it.
"It had been specially glued down, but someone's taken a Stanley knife or something else to it.
"The staff are very concerned about this because they only use this area for the children and we have called the firm which laid it down and they say to get it fixed it could cost £1,500 which is a lot of money to find.
"If anyone has any idea who did this, we would like to hear from them because the people it has hurt the most is the children, who are only three, four and five years old.
"We asked the children to come in a different way, which was enough to upset some of them and it has meant they haven't been able to play out in the snow and they don't understand."
Police say the thieves climbed over buildings to access the quadrangle play area
Anyone with information is asked to contact Pc Paul Calvert, of Durham Constabulary, on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, with an incident number of DHM-14012016-0035 and crime EE 1600181 REFERS.