Despair at callous community raider

Chief Officer Jo Shepherd (left) and Project Worker Johann Adams with one of the broken computers at the First Step Centre, on Dickson Road, Blackpool.

Chief Officer Jo Shepherd (left) and Project Worker Johann Adams with one of the broken computers at the First Step Centre, on Dickson Road, Blackpool.

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COMMUNITY centre staff have blasted a callous thief who broke in and destroyed two computers on Christmas Day.

Volunteers at the First Step Centre on Dickson Road, Blackpool, are now facing a whopping bill to replace the equipment following the break-in in the early hours of December 25.

They believe the raider smashed a window in the cafe of the centre, which is based in the North Shore Methodist Church Building, in a bid to raid cash.

The target was three coin operated internet stations, two of which were left smashed open and broken following the attack.

Johann Adams, a project worker today spoke of her disgust.

She said: “It is sickening someone can break in and destroy equipment meant for the whole community.

Wrecked

“We give computer access for people who don’t have computers at home and offer help with writing CVs, looking for jobs and even small computer courses.

“Now we have just one which is working because in a bid to get to the money, they wrecked the computers.

“It meant I spent Christmas morning in the centre with police instead of being at home with my family.

“I am furious anybody could do this to a charity organisation.”

The First Step Centre offers affordable meals and activities for residents living in North Shore. It has a thriving community of elderly visitors who enjoy weekly lunch clubs, trips out and even holidays.

But the loss of the computers is a real blow to the centre.

Mrs Adams added: “We run on a not-for-profit basis so finding the money to replace the computers is going to be really difficult.

“They are very well used, it gives people a chance to brush up on IT skills and get help and even look for jobs. We have no idea if and when we will be able to replace them. It’s awful one person has taken this away from the community and on Christmas Day of all days.”

A passer-by alerted police to the break in shortly before 5am on December 25.

The centre will also have to foot the bill for repairing the window and the door to the cafe, which was also damaged when the thief broke in.

Luckily, the raid was in vain as staff had emptied the money from the internet kiosk before they closed the centre for Christmas, but putting right the damage is expected to cost hundreds of pounds..

Today Blackpool Police confirmed they were investigating the break in.

A spokesman added: “We were alerted at 4.50am and found someone had smashed a window and smashed open cash boxes attached to an internet station.”