Vandals destroy sensory garden
27 February 2019, 07:16 | Updated: 27 February 2019, 09:33
Members of a support group for children with autism in Sunderland have been left "devastated" after vandals destroyed their sensory garden.
On Sunday (February 24), police received a report of a break-in at the Downhill Centre, in Killarney Square, which accommodates voluntary group Include ‘In’ Autism.
Vandals broke into the garden overnight on Saturday and ripped metres of wood from its fence and shed, and stole equipment including sensory tents from inside.
The support group, which provides a safe environment for young people with additional needs to enjoy and explore their senses, has been left “devastated” by the burglary.
An investigation has been launched to find those responsible for the damage, and police are now asking the public to come forward with any information they have to assist their enquiries.
PC Daniel Armstrong, of Northumbria Police, said: “Crimes like this understandably cause a great deal of emotion and anguish among the community.
“This is a local support group run by volunteers who show incredible levels of determination and kindness to help some of the most vulnerable individuals in our area.
“For vandals to break in and cause such levels of devastation is absolutely disgraceful.
“Enquiries are ongoing into this incident, and we are committed to finding out the circumstances behind this break-in and deal with anybody found to be responsible swiftly and robustly.
“We would like to hear from anybody who saw anything suspicious over the weekend in that area to get in touch.”
Marie Jevon, the founder and chief executive of Include ‘In’ Autism, admits the crime has hit everybody at the group hard.
“We are absolutely devastated by what has happened,” she said. “My heart is broken for the children, and I hope those responsible can live with themselves knowing they have caused such upset and anguish as a result of their actions.
“I would ask that anybody who knows anything about this incident to please contact police.”
Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting reference 759 240219 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
An online fund has been set up to repair the damage, replace what was stolen and improve security https://www.gofundme.com/6xd5ulk?fbclid=IwAR1YPo2FiFvKBrn7BSZqe8jc-62Mu2NYUb1KwnuUYzJa1LYyBTDa_9ZwOY4