A nursery has been left counting the cost after burglars broke in and stole a safe and electrical items.
The burglary at Layton Methodist playgroup forced the nursery to close to children who were due back after the festive break.
Playgroup manager Faye McCulloch said the burglars had broken a window to get into the nursery, which is attached to Salem Methodist Church on Westcliffe Drive, Layton, and had stolen a laptop, a camera and a video camera as well as safe containing up to £350.
She said: “The children are back now. But the most annoying this is that we feel we’ve lost a bit of community spirit.
“We’re a church hall and we’re a non-profit making organisation relying on grants.
“All the equipment that was taken is going to take a lot of fundraising to get back.” Mrs McCulloch said the loss was covered by insurance, but the playgroup’s premiums would go up as a result of the burglary, which happened between 1.30pm and 6pm on Sunday January 5.
The safe, which had been emptied of cash and contained only paperwork, was discovered near to Layton Medical Centre on Kingscote Drive.
It meant the children, who were due to start their new term at the playgroup the following day, were told to stay away.
Mrs McCulloch added: “This happened the day before the children were due back after Christmas, but because of all the glass that was on the floor and the fact that it was all such a mess we couldn’t open on that first day. It took a lot of cleaning up.
“It put quite a lot of parents out, especially if they were due back at work.”
The playgroup has been open since April 1996 and some of the staff have been there since the first day.
Mrs McCulloch said some of them had been affected by the burglary.
“It’s really knocked us completely,” she added.
“We are well established and a lot of people know us, so it’s really upsetting to have something like this happen.
“Our parents are all really gutted.”
Mrs McCulloch said she was imposing a new policy that staff members were not allowed in the building on their own.
She said: “We don’t want to put ourselves in a vulnerable position. Because of what’s happened I feel like I can’t come in on my own.
“We’re back to normal, as much as we can be now. We wanted to get cleaned up and up and running as soon as we could. We’re just getting on as best we can to move forward from what’s happened.”
PC Dave Donafee, from Lancashire Police, said: “The Playgroup itself forms part of the Church building and is a non-profit organisation.
“Due to the cost of the safe, laptop and software on the laptop this is going to affect the insurance premium which is paid for by the church.
“I would appeal to anybody with any information about the person or persons responsible to contact us.”
Call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.