A NON-LEAGUE football club was left devastated after crooks armed with bolt cutters stole thousands of pounds worth of equipment in a late-night robbery.

Hullbridge Sports’ Ryan’s Heating Stadium, in Lower Road, was broken into, leaving bosses heartbroken.

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Among the items stolen was drainage equipment taken on trial just a matter of days earlier.

Alistair Nash, the Hullbridge chairman, said: “It’s soul-destroying when you find out what has happened.

“They have stolen all of the equipment we had on trial. We hadn’t even paid for that equipment yet and it was being used to help the pitch.

“We’d had the equipment for four days, whereas the person we took it on trial from had it for 15 years!

“The way the thieves got in and out of the stadium is really concerning and it would cost tens of thousands of pounds to do more security work. It’s just heartbreaking.

“We have lost thousands of pounds worth of equipment.”

The thieves gained access to the Ryan’s Heating Stadium from three different points, having also broken into the arena, without taking anything, in a recce two weeks earlier.

And Mr Nash believes it was a planned heist.

“These guys clearly knew what they were doing and we are trying to get more CCTV footage from the local area,” he added.

“They gained access from three different points, so it was all pre-planned. We were broken into two weeks ago and they got in on that occasion through the Rayleigh Club golf course.

“They opened up the containers but took nothing, so we knew it was a recce.”

Police confirmed they are investigating the incident last Tuesday but no arrests have been made.

Anyone with information should call police on 101, Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or crimestoppers-uk.org