A youth football club has been left devastated after thieves broke in and stole £1,700 of equipment.

Bideford Blues and Appledore Junior Football Club. Matt SmartBideford Blues and Appledore Junior Football Club. Matt Smart

Thieves broke into the storage lockers at Bideford Blues and Appledore JFC in the early hours of Saturday, October 13.

Among the items taken from the club, based in Sandymere Road, Northam, were footballs, pop-up goals and fitness equipment.

The junior football club provides football training and matches for 18 boys and girls teams from the ages of six to 16 years.

Club official Alan McKenzie said the incident was ‘devastating’.

“We are 100 per cent a voluntary, charitable service for children between the ages of six and 16 and we have around 300 members now,” he said.

“It’s so upsetting. They stole balls meant for the six-year-olds’ Saturday morning session, and when we became aware of it on Tuesday we were left in a position where they would not have any balls to train with.

“We give up our own time, which we want to do for the children. They took balls, mini goals and fitness equipment, but it’s the balls that hits us pretty hard.”

The club is now looking at extra security measures at the Sandymere clubhouse to prevent any repeat of the incident.

It’s not the first time the club has been broken into, with vandals wrecking the changing rooms in 2016.

Bideford Police confirmed the break-in on social media. The post, which has been shared widely by the community, has prompted offers from members of the public to buy new equipment for the children to use.

“The response has been great, with people volunteering to buy balls for the club so the children aren’t affected,” said Alan.

“Lots of people drop their children down here from clubs all over North Devon, and they know what it takes to run a club like this.”

Anyone who may have any information about the break-in is asked to contact police by phoning 101 or emailing 101@dc.police.uk, quoting crime reference number CR/095796/18.

Information can also be passed on anonymously to Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555111.