Metal thieves in Sheffield are going to desperate lengths to make money – stealing school gates and a burger van
The thieves have been branded ‘the lowest of the low’ after stealing wrought iron gates which kept children safe at a city nursery.
And they even made off with Jeremy Woolley’s custom-made stainless steel burger van when he popped into a shop for a pint of milk.
CCTV images show a Transit van towing away the mobile unit from Hounslow Road near the city centre at 6.25am yesterday.
Owner John – who is offering a £1,000 reward for information leading to its return – said today: “It was a massive shock.”
The thefts follow a surge in raids because of the rising price of scrap metal.
Metal thieves dismantled and hauled away the wrought iron gates at Scallywags nursery in Nether Edge – which will cost £3,000 to replace.
They then broke into a garage and took the youngsters’ bouncy castle, used as a treat on special occasions.
The gates were 7ft high and 4ft wide with spikes on top and staff say a lorry or large van must have been used to steal them in the middle of the night.
Nursery manager Louise Hardy said: “We feel sad and angry that someone could do this to our nursery.
“We have nothing really of value here and we need the gates to keep our children safe.
“Anyone who could do something like this must be the lowest of the low.”
The gates, specially made for the nursery 10 years ago, are black and have gold letters welded onto them – ‘Scall’ on one side and ‘Ywags’ on the other – but it is expected they will be removed when the thieves attempt to sell them for scrap.
Nursery director Julia Campbell said: “It is so depressing – one scrap merchant told us they probably wouldn’t get much for the gates anyway but they’ll cost us thousands to replace.
“The bouncy castle, which cost us £1,500, will be useless to them too – they haven’t got the compressor to inflate it and if they did they’d find it says Scallywags Children’s Centre with our phone number on it.
“Obviously we will have to replace the gates as soon as we can, the playground isn’t safe without them.”
Staff at the nursery on Moncrieffe Road have spent hours ringing and emailing scrap metal merchants all over the county to tell them to be on the alert.
They have also registered the theft on the website of the British Metals Recycling Association.
“New laws are coming in to prevent metal merchants dealing with stolen goods,” Julia said.
“Merchants will soon have to take details of vehicles which drop scrap metal at their yards and they will no longer be allowed to make payment in cash. Many of the merchants are now properly licensed and so the gates may be recovered.”
Julia said if anyone was passing the nursery at night over the weekend and noticed any vehicles in the driveway or car park, they should inform the police.
“If there is a scrap merchant who knows the whereabouts of the gates, or if a member of the public were to come across the bouncy castle, we’d ask them to do the same. We’re also offering a £500 reward if the gates are returned promptly,” she added.
South Yorkshire Police Superintendent Paul McCurry, the force’s lead on metal theft, said: “We take these sorts of crimes seriously. “Each one is investigated and we are tackling the disposal routes of metal with our partners. There are also planned national days of action to tackle this type of crime across the UK.”