SCOUTS face camping in borrowed gear this week after burglars broke into their hut and stole tents and equipment, writes LUCY GOLDING.
Five windows were smashed at Minster Lovell Scout hut in West Oxfordshire by thieves who stole four inflatable Vango Flux Volcano five-man tents – estimated to be worth £380 each.
They also stole five axes, two large machete knives and folding spades in addition to aprons and gloves.
Now the scouts face living in borrowed tents during the group’s annual winter camp in fields around the scout hut on Friday night.
Group leader Angus Campbell said: “Quite a few of the scout leaders and parents are members of the RAF, so they have got access to equipment which we are borrowing from them.
“But it has been a nightmare, not only because of the stress we have all gone through but also because we did a lot of fundraising over two years to buy the tents. There was a point where we thought we would have to cancel the camp but, after speaking to the scouts, we decided to make a plan.”
The overnight break-in on November 10 has cost the scout group about £3,000. They will face having to fundraise again to replace the equipment after the Christmas break.
Committee members and parents are keeping an eye on eBay to check if the tents are put up for sale.
The group went ahead with a Remembrance Day event the same weekend of the break-in, despite the missing windows and broken doors.
Mr Campbell said: “It was a commitment to the community. We had to do it.”
There are fears over the missing axes and machetes, used by the scouts for cutting through branches and logs.
Mr Campbell said: “They are dangerous blades. For our Scouts to use the axes they have to go through a whole training programme. It’s a concern that some kids could have a hold of them.”
The Scout hut, which is trust owned, must now raise additional money to pay for replacement heavy-duty doors plus a new alarm system. The insurance will only cover £850 of the cost.
Mr Campbell said that the Scout hut is no stranger to events of this nature.
He said: “It’s the third time we have been broken into since I became involved with the Scouts a couple of years ago.
To make a donation, contact Mr Campbell on firstname.lastname@example.org If you have any information relating to the burglary call the police on 101.