POOLE’S outdoor education centre has been raided twice in the last six weeks.
Both times the boat compound at the centre in Hamworthy Park, run by the Harbour Challenge charity, has been entered and outboard motors stolen.
“I feel frustrated and hurt,” said principal Chris Hurlock. During the first break-in two outboards were stolen and the total cost of the damage and theft totalled £5,600.
The two stolen engines were replaced and now these have been taken along with two others after the fence was broken into, locks cut off a storage container and CCTV smashed during Tuesday night.
“Three brand new engines and one that’s two years old have been stolen,” said Chris.
And this was despite security being beefed up after the first raid, with advice from Hamworthy Safer Neighbourhood Team and cameras installed, which are now linked to the police control room.
He said he was hurt that thieves, who used the centre’s trolleys to wheel the outboards away, had put the charity’s ability to offer sailing, kayaking and other watersports to children, in jeopardy. The previous week they had 150 youngsters out in Poole Harbour.
“Fortunately we have other safety boats, not kept here, we are able to bring these in to continue to be on the water. Effectively if we didn’t have these we would be closed on the water sports side because we would not be able to provide safety cover,” he said.
“Potentially this could have closed us down while we replaced the engines,” he said. And while insurance covered the first loss, he was unsure what effect this would have on the policy.
Dorset Police are appealing for witnesses or anyone with information to contact them on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111, quoting crime number 23:99.
- Harbour Challenge began in 1996 on Brownsea Island, was appointed to run the Outdoor Education Centre by Borough of Poole earlier this year, and is working to get more disabled people on the water.
It has spent £30,000 on the building in the park so far to improve access for people in wheelchairs.
The charity was awarded £198,000 from Sport England for disability sport and £70,000 is going towards a boat which can takes wheelchairs.
They work with Duke of Edinburgh candidates and provide work experience and volunteer opportunities for youngsters as well as a wide range of activities.