HEARTLESS thieves have stolen £5,000 worth of equipment from a gardening charity.
They broke into a padlocked steel container at the Branching Out Project at Parklea and made off with a stash of lawnmowers, hedge trimmers and strimmers.
Bosses at the organisation – which provides training, work experience and employment to over 100 adults with learning disabilities – are dismayed.
Project manager Sharon Gemmell said: “It’s not nice at all, especially for a charity working with people with learning disabilities.
“I’m disappointed because of how it makes you feel and how it impacts on the people we work with.”
Tools taken included a brand new lawnmower worth £1,200.
Sharon said: “We’ve built up a lot of equipment over the years and there were nine items taken in total – that’s a lot of equipment.
“We’re a small charity and we can’t just go out and buy new tools.”
Sharon, who has worked at the project for 20 years, says nothing on this scale has happened before.
She said: “There have been little bits of vandalism, but nothing as significant as this.
“It’s upset the service users more than we had thought.
“It’s their place of work, they take ownership of their activities here.
“It has affected them, but we are trying to reassure them that we will get through it.”
Sharon says the project will now be forced to hire equipment to fulfil the contracts they have.
Part of their enterprise as a not-for-profit organisation is to cut grass and grow and maintain plants for sale.
She said: “These thieves obviously don’t have a conscience.
“It has taught us a lesson as well and we are looking at our security.”
Sharon insists the team will carry on, despite the setback.
She told the Tele: “We will continue to service our contracts with our customers and fulfil our responsibilities to ensure we provide a good service and a good product.”
Councillor Jim MacLeod, a founder member and director on the Parklea board, branded the break-in as ‘disgraceful’.
He added: “It’s an absolute disgrace that a charity that does so much for the community, especially people with disabilities, has been targeted in this way.
“I would imagine that whoever did this knew what they were looking for.
“It’s sickening to see something like this happen – that is money the charity is struggling to recoup now.”
Anyone with information about the break-in should call police on 101.
Source : GreenockTelegraph