Burglars tucked into a box of biscuits as they ransacked a community centre before stealing food and drink meant for children and pensioners.
Thieves broke in through the roof of the Moorside Community Centre in Bramley at the weekend.
They caused about £1,500 of damage before leaving with about £5,000 of equipment, including a music system, games consoles and a DVD player.
They also snatched children’s DVDs and supplies intended for weekly old folks’ lunches and children’s clubs.
Secretary and treasurer Bev Doughton said: “They must have been hungry because they even opened a box of biscuits which they tucked into before leaving.
“I’m so angry. Why would anyone want to do this to children and pensioners?”
The community centre, on St Catherine’s Drive, holds lunches on Thursdays for over-55s – many of whom live alone – and a youth club on Saturdays for five to 11-year-olds.
The incident happened some time between Thursday night and Saturday morning, when Mrs Doughton, who has been involved for the last six years, arrived to open up for the youth club.
The freezer had been emptied of food. Soft drinks had also gone.
“When I saw what had happened, I went outside and sobbed,” she said. “I just had a feeling of disbelief, it made me feel sick.
“We do a lot of work to try and teach kids to be good citizens and to stop them getting involved in anti-social behaviour – and it works.
“Whoever did this used to be a child themselves. I just can’t understand it.”
Mrs Doughton said she believed the culprits had been in the centre before and knew what it contained. She also thanked people who had offered to help since the break-in – and appealed to local companies for advice and help on improving the centre’s security.
“I won’t be beaten,” she added. “I won’t let them win.”
Nikki Murrell, 24, who takes her three children to the centre and is involved in helping out, said the burglary was a blow to people who used the centre.
“The kids are absolutely gutted,” she said.
“We had just started getting it built up and it feels like we are back to square one. The worst thing is it was probably someone who knew what was in the centre.”
Police are investigating. Anyone with information should contact Armley, Bramley and Stanningley Neighbourhood Policing Team via 101.