Play centre for children with special needs robbed again in Upper Clapton

Equipment has been stolen or destroyed in the spate of sophisticated break-ins at the Kids’ Adventure Playground in Upper Clapton, and a visit from Father Christmas had to be cancelled because there was no money for a party.

The youngsters, most of whom have learning or physical disabilities, were shaken by the latest incident and distressed by the sight of police officers carrying out an investigation last Thursday.

The night before, CCTV captured burglars using thermal cutting gear to break a padlock on a shed. They made off with a �5,000 ride-on mower and two lawnmowers – all gifts to the centre from generous donors.

“The kids are so upset,” said manager Claira Scott-Gray. “They’re not feeling safe here anymore with the burglars coming in. And seeing the police makes them anxious.

“We couldn’t afford a proper Christmas party because now we have to maintain the building, replace things, and pay increased insurance premiums. We said Santa broke his leg and could only do one journey – to their homes – this year.”

Balaclava-clad thieves first targeted the centre, in Spring Lane, in August.

“They ransacked the place,” Claira said. “They pulled security lighting down and the shutters off to get inside, and broke open the safe to steal �95 – collected in a whip-round for someone’s leaving present – a camera, and a video recorder used to film the children to monitor their progress.

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“They also smashed up the children’s laptop, which was just mindless vandalism.

“The second time they stole things we’d replaced, but the third time we had nothing left because we haven’t got the money to keep replacing things. So they just chucked everything about.”

Claira says valuable items are no longer kept on site and is appealing for a security expert to offer advice on the building’s alarm and lighting system.

Anyone wishing to help should contact Claira at or 0208 806 6149.

Anyone with information about the break-ins should contact Det Con Claire Astle on 020 7275 3159 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, quoting reference CR4633506/11.