Staff at a Yeovil nursery were heartbroken when children’s play equipment worth hundreds of pounds went missing overnight.
Five bikes – which cost up to £150 each – were taken from a locked shed at the Little Rascals Day Nursery in Preston Road last week. An outdoor rowing boat, which was set into the grass in one of two play areas, was also removed.
It later emerged the items had been taken by “drunken students”.
Nursery owner Helen Jones said the offenders struck sometime between 6pm on Thursday and 7.45am on Friday, lifting items over a high wall that surrounds the complex.
On Monday, she said: “It’s heartbreaking. We are upset and angry. The most upsetting thing is the fact there are people out there that are happy to take from a children’s nursery where obviously all the equipment is used by young children.”
But Mrs Jones said all the equipment was returned to her on Tuesday. She said: “A man turned up with three bikes in his van. He’s a landlord of a house near us. He’s got 14 people he rents the house to. He said they are all students. It turns out two of them got drunk, came down and took the boat. Then they came back and took the bikes.”
She said the man noticed the equipment in the back garden of the house. He put the items in his van before checking with the nursery if the equipment belonged there. The police have been notified.
She said: “We are all pleased. The children were pretty pleased and excited. We are relieved but still quite angry. They’ve used the fact, ‘We are students and we were drunk’. Everybody gets drunk at some stage, the fact they are still willing to take items from children is still quite shocking.”
Mrs Jones said one of the offenders offered to pay for any damage caused which “is appreciated”.
She said: “We will have to wait to see what the police say. We are going to get a quote for the damage and check if the bikes are OK.”
The nursery has 50 children between the ages of three months and eight years. It relies completely on donations from parents and the public.
Mrs Jones said the bikes had been bought with the proceeds of fundraising activities held at the nursery.
A spokeswoman for Avon and Somerset police confirmed the property had been returned but said it was too early to say if any further action will be taken.