A Blackpool dance school which has been running for more than 20 years has been forced to close its doors for good after a catalogue of vandalism and break-ins
Teachers at Tiptoes Dance Studio, in Layton, say burglars have left the school “looking like a prison” after bars had to be installed and barbed wire put on top of surrounding walls in a futile bid to deter thieves.
The school, in Collingwood Place, which has around 100 students, has been raided at least once a month every month since May, with yobs smashing their way in and leaving the building a wreck.
Now teachers at the school say they have had enough and have reluctantly taken the decision to close the studio completely to students.
Parents of pupils at the school today told of their devastation at the decision, saying it has left children “heartbroken”.
But teacher Jennie Kennedy said: “This isn’t a decision we have taken lightly.
“We, the parents and especially the children are heartbroken that we have been forced to do this, but we can’t carry on like this.
“I live in Warrington and my business partner is in Stockport, so you get fed-up of having to drive in at 4am when the police ring to tell you there has been yet another break-in.”
The first break-in occurred in May when thieves broke down a rear wall to gain access and stole stereo equipment and £1,000 from the safe.
In June and July the building was targeted again with further damage caused to doors and windows and small amounts of cash being stolen.
In August, September and October thieves broke in but fled empty handed when they activated the new alarm system.
The last break-in was a fortnight ago, causing yet more damage to the premises.
Ms Kennedy added: “We don’t take any money out of the business as it is and we have had to spend a fortune on new alarms and CCTV
“The first time we were raided they knocked through a wall – they emptied the safe and took out the stereo. Everything had to be replaced.
“We have installed security and barbed wire but they still targeted us.
“I guess we are seen as an easy target. We are in constant fear.
“Every time we are broken into we have to deal with the insurance company. We are a small business and cannot keep doing it.
“It has just been awful - the children are so upset.
“It is a big part of their life.
“You get to the stage where you have had enough. The children see the school as a magical place, they don’t want to go somewhere that looks like a prison with bars and barbed wire.”
Fellow teacher Carrie Ann Bartlett added: “I work full time as a scientist and do dance teaching in my spare time. This is a lot of stress and it cannot carry on.
“The first time they broke in they stole a lot of stuff and we had alarms fitted. They broke in again but were scared off. It has happened every month –we have had to put extra locks on everything.
“It has been a difficult period. We got to the point we decided we were just defeated.”
Jennie said despite searching for alternative venues to hold classes, nowhere has been found.
The dance school closed for the final time on Friday, with one final Christmas performance yesterday.
Today distraught parents told of the impact the loss of the school would have.
Paula Topham, 35, from Marton, said daughters Chelsea, 16, and Katie, 11 were distraught at the closure.
She added: “Everyone is absolutely heartbroken. Everyone is just so upset.
“It is to do with the burglaries.
“Each time I see the teachers after each incident they get more and more disheartened.
“Jennie and Carrie-Ann have tried so much but it is down to the break-ins.”
Mum Cheryl Kirby said her children, Stevie, 18, and Skye 14, had both attended the school since the age of three.
She added: “We are all heartbroken. It is their lives.
“We are really devastated. Everyone refers to it as the Tiptoes family.
“All the teachers have put so much work into it – it’s just devastating they cannot continue.”
A police spokesman confirmed they were investigating the series of break-ins at Tiptoes and have had several reports of burglaries since June.