Thieves stole money earmarked to help disabled young people when they broke into a village care centre on Saturday.
The thieves also caused thousands of pounds worth of damage when they jemmied open steel doors at the entrance to Oaktree Farm Care at Copsale - a day care centre for young adults with learning disabilities.
The crooks stole around £1,000 - money saved from the disabled youngsters’ benefits through the year earmarked for outings, parties and pantomime tickets. The cash was contained in a safe, which was stolen along with another safe containing keys for vehicles used to ferry youngsters around the community.
Oaktree Farm Care senior manager Dave Curran said: “We’re gobsmacked. It’s a devastating thing to have happened.” He said there had been a previous attempted break-in at the centre around four weeks ago. He added: “This has now left a large cost of replacement locks, repairs to the building and replacement monies to be found out of funds.”
The centre - on a 33-acre farm in Copsale - cares for around 40 adults aged between 18-25 and aims to help encourage and support them to remain as independent as possible within their own homes and community.
An appeal for help has now been placed via Oaktree Farm Care’s website, saying: “Please help us find these people and stop this happening to anyone else.
“If you can give any help or support please contact Oaktree Farm direct on 01403 732230 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Or you can donate direct: https://www.leetchi.com/c/help-oak-tree-farm”
A spokesman for Sussex Police said the break-in was thought to have taken place between 3.30 and 9.45pm on Saturday. “Anyone with information about the incident or who saw anything suspicious in the area on Saturday afternoon or early evening is asked to report online at https://sussex.police.uk/appealresponse or call 101 quoting serial 1487 of 14/10.”