TWO Sea Scouts groups are counting the cost of crime after vandals and thieves targeted their equipment.
Around 15 youths were captured on CCTV at Testwood Lakes in Totton on Wednesday 31st July, damaging a rowing boat and taking six plastic rafts belonging to 4th New Forest North (Eling) Sea Scouts.
The group were also seen swimming in the lake, despite signs warning of blue-green algae, which can pose a health risk.
Group leader Marcus Sly told the A&T: “It has caused disruption to us as the boat was dropped, which has caused around £350 of damage and will need to be fixed before our regatta in September.
“These people are trespassing, so they should not even be in the water, but also it’s dangerous. They could have been hurt as the CCTV shows the boat crashing down when they dropped it.”
The CCTV also shows members of the public approaching the youths about their behaviour, only for them to continue again once they left.
Marcus told the A&T that he reported the incident to police, who are reviewing the CCTV footage and increasing patrols of the area.
He was forced to call them again on Sunday when around 50 youths were found to be using the pontoon when the group returned to its headquarters from camping.
The youths were verbally abusive to the group of 30 Sea Scouts and spat at them and threw stones.
Meanwhile, a fundraising page has been set up to replace £5,000 worth of canoes and paddle boards belonging to Sandleheath Sea Scouts that were stolen from the Spinnaker Sailing Club in Ivy Lane, Ringwood.
The thieves struck between 5pm on 26th July and 10am on 28th July. It is thought they cut through the perimeter fence to avoid entering the sailing club’s car park and the chance of being detected.
Volunteer committee member Mark Davison set up the Just Giving website. In just a few days, £550 has been raised.
Mark said: “While away on summer camp the group had at least two open canoes and three paddle boards stolen from storage sheds at the lake.
“It is not fully known yet if this is all that has been taken until they are able to check everything. It is estimated that the repairs to the shed and the replacement of the equipment is likely to cost £5,000.
“They, like all Scout groups, have limited resources and need to make what they have go a long way and to ensure that scouting is accessible to all.”
Mark has also been making repairs to the sheds and has moved more valuable equipment to a different location. He added: “The impact will be enormous. A lot of the newer equipment that was taken, like the stand-up paddle boards are by far the most desirable items for the Scouts to use. It’s a real shame.”
To donate to the fundraiser visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/sandleheathseascouts.
Those with information on either incident should call police on 101, quoting the reference number 44190270164 (4th New Forest North Sea Scouts) or 44190265225 (Sandleheath), or phone Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.