A break-in at Kirkstall Educational Cricket Club has caused thousands of pounds of damage

Vandals smashed their way into Kirkstall Educational Cricket Club, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.

Tuesday, 6th August 2019, 1:00 pm
Thieves used a gas canister to break into the ladies toilets.

They broke window bars using a gas canister before squeezing through the window to the ladies toilet.

-> Vandal outrage at historic Leeds cricket clubA TV, projector, PA system, two boxes of prosecco, two laptops and even chocolate were taken.

Formed in 1853, the club is 10 years older than Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

Thieves used a gas canister to break into the ladies toilets.

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The England cricketer Bill Bowes, who played in the infamous Bodyline series against Australia, honed his skills at Kirkstall.

The volunteer-led club has suffered a major problem with break-ins in the past, but they'd hoped the worst was over after two years trouble-free before the latest incident, which happened some time between 4pm on Tuesday July 30 and the following day at 9.30am.

-> Burglars targeted Leeds cricket clubClub President and groundsman David Hodgson said he arrived on Wednesday morning to find a security light sensor on the pitch - known as the Field of Dreams - before finding the clubhouse had been broken into.

Mr Hodgson estimates the club in Queenswood Drive has been targeted around 17 times in the last five years - with the latest incident causing around £2,500 of damage.

Club Chairman Nick Davis, left, and David Hodgson after a break-in in 2014.

"It is soul-destroying. All we want to do is play cricket," he said.

"England may just have won the world cup, but at club level, cricket is struggling.

"It's hard for us to get volunteers, hard for us to get players

"A club run by volunteers struggles to recover from stuff like this."

The clubhouse cupboards were raided.

Mr Hodgson said it also affected him personally, because he, as groundsman, is always the first to find out when the club has been targeted.

"My heart sinks. It's not just the cricketers who are affected," he added.

The club also hosts youth and music groups who use the facilities.

-> Leeds cricket club’s burglary foiled by policeClub management have tried their best over the years to invest in better security, but Mr Hodgson said thieves would always find a weak spot if they were determined.

But he was keen to stress that the club is nothing if not resilient.

"We will dust ourselves down and carry on as best we can. We are fighting this and doing our best," he said.

"They are not going to stop us playing cricket."

A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: "Officers are investigating the break-in which took place overnight between 4pm on Tuesday July 30 and 9.30am on Wednesday July 31 after thieves broke into the club building on Queenswood Drive and stole items including a safe, microphone and sound equipment including a Stage Pro 300 speaker and amplifier.

"They then made off across the cricket field.

"Anyone who has information about the break-in or who is offered audio equipment such as speakers for sale in suspicious circumstances is asked to contact Leeds District Police on 101 referencing 13190389316.

"Information can also be given online at www.westyorkshire.police.uk/101livechat or anonymously to the independent Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111."