Thieves who targeted a “vital” facility in Ballykelly have been blasted for carrying out “an attack on the community”.
Damage left by oil thieves at Ballykelly Community & Youth Association was discovered on Friday. It left bingo goers without heating and forced the cancellation of the weekly youth club.
Ballykelly Community & Youth Association Chairperson, Tina McCloskey said: “It was freezing at bingo and I though we had run out of oil. The caretaker went out on Friday morning and found the pipe had been cut. There was a top of one of the cans lying on the ground, so I think they may have been disturbed.
“We got it fixed on Saturday, but we still had to cancel youth club on Saturday night as it was just too cold. We usually have between 50 to 60 young people at youth club and it’s all they have at the weekend so they were really disappointed.”
Mrs McCloskey suspects the damage may have been caused by someone local.
“They don’t think much of their community to do something like this because the damage they caused affected so many people. The centre is an easy target, tucked away and easy to get in and out of.”
Mrs McCloskey said security has been stepped up since the theft.
“There have been a few incidents at the centre over the years, minor things. This is the first in a while. Hopefully, it’s a one-off,” she said.
“The community centre is a vital part of the community, for young and older people.
“They didn’t get away with a lot, but money is tight as we’re always scrimping and saving. Things like this can really set us back.”
Mrs McCloskey joined a police appeal for information.
“People should care and, if they know anything, they should do the right thing because this is an attack on the community. It has affected so many people,” added Mrs McCloskey.
A PSNI spokesperson said: “Sometime between Saturday 28 January and Friday 3 February, a pipe on an oil tank at a premises in the Kings Lane area was broken off.”
Police urge anyone with information about the criminal damage to call them on 101, quoting reference number 689 03/02/17, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”