THIEVES have left a centre for people with learning difficulties with a £4,500 repair bill after breaking in and ransacking the building.
Bosses at the Lisa Dixon Centre in Haswell are devastated following the break-in, which happened at about 3am on Monday.
Newly-installed patio doors, which will form part of a sensory garden project and were bought after a sponsored headshave and walk by kitchen staff, were jammed open with a crow bar, before the metal rod was used to force open other doors and drawers around the building.
The complex, which is home to Haswell and District Mencap and for people from across East Durham, had to be closed on Monday while the mess was cleared and repairs carried out.
The thieves’ haul included a £25 till float and three bottles of wine which had been donated as raffle prizes – but the clean-up costs will amount to £4,500.
Hayley Hood, the centre’s chief executive, said: “The staff and volunteers raised the money for those doors, they walked miles, one lady had waist-length hair and had that shaved off, they worked hard.
“I will never forget their faces when they saw the glass and everything else all over the floor and the damage.
In February, thieves stolen the wheels of the bus which had just been donated to the centre so it could help transport its members to events and sessions, with the cost of the theft and damage put at £2,000.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Durham Constabulary on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, quoting reference DHM-06012014-0039.