A senior police officer in Forfar has issued a stark warning to those responsible for a string of break-ins at the east end of town that their behaviour will not be tolerated.
In a week that saw thieves strike at the North Street Dairy, Jack and Jill’s Elite Nursery in Carseview Road and then the Wendyhouse Children’s Nursery, again in North Street, Detective Inspector Graham Binnie of Eastern Division CID confirmed a number of inquiries were on-going.
He urged the local business community to remain vigilant and appealed to members of the public to report anything suspicious, no matter how insignificant they feel it may be.
Staff at Jack and Jill’s Elite Nursery discovered their premises had been targeted when they turned up for work last Monday.
On this occasion a crowbar had been used to break open a safe and around £300 of fund-raising money was stolen.
Owner Cherie Butler spoke of the upset the break-in had caused among her staff, but how heartened they had been that two generous benefactors had stepped in and had replaced the money stolen - and more.
She told the “Dispatch”: “This is a bonus to us and, whilst we are picking ourselves up and dusting ourselves down, we were all just so quiet in here on Monday. Thank God they just broke into the safe, but then you think a safe is safe!”
The break-in to the Wendyhouse was discovered on Thursday morning after thieves managed to enter the nursery’s main building and the adjacent baby section.
Unlike Jack and Jill’s, where the thieves were unable to enter the rest of the premises as the office door was locked, those who struck the Wendyhouse went through the whole premises.
Wendyhouse owner Jill Culross said: “They went through all our filing cabinets and staff lockers looking for anything that was worth taking. No personal items were taken. Everybody here is devastated; it is an invasion of our work space and a lot of work built up over the years has gone. It is the disruption that is left behind that is difficult to deal with.
“After the police had been the girls were keen to get stuck in and get tidied up. We have just got to put this behind us and get ready for another day. There was minimal disruption at the nursery to allow the police to do their work and the parents have been wonderful, very understanding.”
The break-ins at the nursery followed a break-in to North Street Dairy the previous week, as well as break-ins at a local butchers and computer company.
Detective Inspector Binnie confirmed a lot of inquiries were on-going and he was confident they would get a resolution.
He hit out at those who had targeted the children’s nurseries, describing their actions as “despicable.”
He said: “Charity money was taken, there is the risk to children if there is broken glass, this is a horrible crime and we want it to stop. We are confident we will get a resolution.
“There is also the inconvenience to the businesses.”
It emerged other businesses in the town, including a hairdressers, florist, sweet shop, computer shop and now two nurseries had been targeted, and the inspector’s message was quite clear.
“These are despicable crimes and we are not going to accept this at all.
“There have been people charged with one or two of the crimes and prosecutions are pending. A significant amount of inquiries are continuing but we still need the help of the Forfar public.”
He advised local businesses to make sure adequate security is in place at their premises and not to leave significant amounts of cash in their property. He also encouraged them to contact Claire Taylor, crime prevention office at Tayside Police, for advice.
He continued: “We also appeal to the Forfar public to report anything they feel is suspicious of an evening or overnight, even if they feel it is insignificant. It might be a security light going on, unusual noises - please let us know.
“We have increased our foot patrols in the centre of Forfar and are issuing a strong message that we will not stand for this.”
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Tayside Police on the non-emergency number 0300 111 2222 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.