The UK's fastest-growing regional news network
°C | 11°C
22°C | 11°C
22°C | 12°C
See the full forecast for your area.
Sponsored by Britelite.
Home Dartford News Article
Youngsters are reeling after their Sea Cadet unit was broken into and gas canisters stolen.
Fifteen gas canisters, six full of fuel and nine empty, were taken and a wall and some plumbing were damaged when thieves broke into Dartford and Crayford Sea Cadets’ base, next to Brooklands Lake, Dartford.
The offenders smashed through the gates before forcing their way into the building. A large white van had been spotted in the area earlier.
Each gas canister costs £100 to replace but the exact cost of repairs is unknown.
It means the group has no hot water, heating or gas for cooking.
Those undertaking the Silver Stewardship qualification, where cadets are taught silver service and food preparation, have had to put their studies on hold.
The group has 30 young members between 10 and 18. The Sea Cadets is a charity-funded organisation and relies on donations.
Petty Officer Emma Dawson, 38, said it was “heart breaking”.
She said: “It really has deprived the kids. Each unit doesn’t get funding from the MoD, unlike the Army and Air Cadets.”
The damage was discovered when the cadets came in for weekend drill practice ahead of a national competition.
Since the break-in on Friday, March 8, they have struggled to focus.
PO Dawson said: “At practice, the kids’ hearts weren’t in it because of what happened.
“They’re a great bunch but this knocked them because they take a lot of pride in their unit and their unit was violated by a bunch of thugs.”
PO Dawson said a lot of young people under her command had gone on to have successful careers both in the Navy or in civilian life, often because of skills picked up at the unit.
She said: “Why is someone trying to deprive the kids when we trying to provide them with a good start in life?
“I’ve got three cadets that have just got into the Navy. One has just come back from the Philippines and helps out when he’s on leave, and I’ve got one cadet who did his silver service with me who is now a chef at a top London restaurant.”
Anyone with information should call police on 101 and quote 08-0450.
If you can help buy new gas canisters or carry out repairs, call 01322 225730.
Click here for more news from Dartford.
Click here for more news from around the county.