CHILDREN'S piggy banks are among the items which have been stolen by thieves who targeted a village pre-school. First Steps Pre-School in Rocester was burgled in the early hours of Friday, March 29. Staff at the pre-school were heart-broken to discover later that morning that offender(s) had not only damaged external and internal doors to smash their way into the High Street property, but they also stole petty cash which was to be used for the children's food and they also took seven piggy banks which belonged to the children themselves.
First Steps Pre-School manager Natasha Gilbert said: “Our building was broken into and our petty cash box was taken with our shopping budget for the children’s food, but the heartbreaking items were piggy banks that are the children’s ‘First Steps’ to saving.”
Natasha explained that the ‘First Steps’ piggy back initiative at the pre-school was introduced a few years ago and gives youngsters the opportunity to save cash in the traditional way of having a piggy bank – and they get to use special ‘First Steps Pre-School’ blue piggy banks.
She said: “Not all children take part but it’s a good way of showing them the benefits of saving.
“They bring in little bits of money when they can during their time with us and then when they ‘graduate’ we present them with what they have saved.”
Natasha confirmed that a total of £179.89 was in the piggy banks and that a further £200 within a petty cash box was also stolen by the thieves.
Two of the piggy banks were later found nearby to the pre-school, but empty of their contents.
Natasha said that the community has been very supportive with donations and well wishes after the ‘heart-breaking’ incident.
She said: “I would like to thank the community around us, Rocester and the surrounding areas for very kind words of support and fundraising which is helping to replace and replenish the children’s savings.
“We are also very grateful to Mason Builders Ltd for quickly repairing the doors and making us feel safe and secure.
“Finally I would like to thank my staff for carrying on Friday morning through the heartbreak to still deliver a fun-filled day for the children.”
First Steps Pre-School, which has been operating for more than 25 years, is a charity run by a volunteer committee which employs nine members of staff.
Natasha, who has worked at the pre-school for more than 15 years, said: “Nothing like this has happened before at the pre-school.
“Fortunately, I believe that the younger children are oblivious to what’s happened.
“If anything, it was a bit exciting for them having the Police forensics on site checking for prints.”
A spokesman for Staffordshire Police confirmed: “The children’s pre school in Rocester, adjacent to the village hall, has been broken into.
“We are asking for anyone who may have seen anything suspicious, perhaps has CCTV in the area, or who may have seen any suspicious looking vehicles around the area, to contact us.”
Anyone with any information about the incident is asked to call Staffordshire Police on 101 quoting incident number 98 of March 29.
So far, nearly £400 has been donated to the nursery by members of the community, mainly through an online Go Fund Me fund-raising page.
Natasha said: “We will definitely use that to replace the piggy banks and also replenish the children’s money, and then we will see how much the door repair work costs.”
Anyone wishing to donate to help First Steps Pre-School get back on their feet after the burglary, can go online to www.gofundme.com/pnerxy-a-cause-i-care-about-needs-help.
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