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Paint Pots Nurseries in Southampton has been the victim of a spate of burglaries and vandalism leaving the owners and staff “appalled and dispirited”.
Over the last week, burglars have broken in five times to four nurseries owned by the group, stealing cash and electronic equipment, mindlessly destroying furniture and doors and even urinating on the babies’ cots and play equipment. Three of the attacks took place on Saturday night.
David Wright, who owns seven nurseries in Southampton, said: “Significant force was used to smash and kick in doors, wrench open locked filing cabinets and scatter the contents of cupboards. The damage has mainly been to external doors and office furniture most of which will need replacing.
“In an added act of insult at one of the sites, the perpetrators urinated onto cot mattresses, carpet and soft play equipment across two rooms before turning up the heating to ensure maximum penetration and smell.”
Mr Wright revealed that he and his co-owners Anna and Joseph are still trying to come to terms with what appears to be a vendetta.
He said that the whole staff team is shaken and incredulous that anyone could do such a thing and added: “The extent of this campaign against us seems to be personal and unprecedented. We accept that break-ins are a sad fact of life but five in one week is difficult to cope with. The revelation that someone has deliberately soiled babies’ cots and soft play equipment used by our youngest and most vulnerable children is beyond credibility”.
Inspector Sharman Wicks from Hampshire Police, which is investigating the break-ins said: “We are investigating several burglaries that have occurred at various Paint Pots Nursery sites over the last two weeks.
“The nurseries that have been targeted are on Spring Crescent, Waterloo Road, Howard Road and Burgess Road.
“Each burglary has occurred either in the evening or sometime overnight and some sites have been targeted more than once.
“On each occasion, entry has been gained via a fire door, front door or rear door. Cash, electronics and food have been taken and each site has been searched and left in a terrible mess.
“We are investigating each incident thoroughly and we would ask anyone with information about these burglaries to get in contact with us.
“These nurseries are run by a family and their services are relied on by families. These crimes prove very debilitating for local communities and we would urge anyone with information to call us on 101 and quote 44160068683.”
Paint Pots Nurseries began when Anna Wright who had trained as a NNEB nursery nurse, started a pre-school in the couple’s home. Her husband David gave up his IT job and joined her. The demand for spaces outgrew their house so they moved out to a former guest house in 2000, which became the first Paint Pots day nursery.