Thieves steal safe from Cuddlepie Early Childhood Learning Centre in Wingham.

Cuddlepie Early Childhood Learning Centre assistant director Joanna Hartley and director Bec Horsburgh cleaning up the trashed office. The safe was located in the corner behind Joanna.
Cuddlepie Early Childhood Learning Centre assistant director Joanna Hartley and director Bec Horsburgh cleaning up the trashed office. The safe was located in the corner behind Joanna.

UPDATE: 

Following the news of the break in and theft at Wingham’s Cuddlepie Early Childhood Learning Centre, a number of people on the Manning River Times Facebook page asked whether there was somewhere they could donate money.

A designated fundraising account has been set up by the daycare centre for donations.

The account is called Funds for Abbey’s Lane. The BSB is 082856 and the account number 775483730.

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 21:

Funds raised in Abbey Stephen’s honour stolen from Wingham’s Cuddlepie

“I think I’m going to cry,” Cuddlepie Early Childhood Learning Centre’s assistant director, Joanna Hartley said, surveying the mess left behind after thieves broke into the premises on Tuesday night, February 20.

The break in was discovered at around 6.30am the next day when the first early shift worker arrived. The thieves had jemmied the lock to the back door to enter the premises, trashed the office and made away with the heavy-duty safe, a laptop, a tablet and Joanna’s diaries, containing seven years of work and information.

The thieves turned the power off before cutting telephone and computer cords, and damaging the walls to pull the entire safe out.

“They knew what they were doing,” Joanna said.

The theft is another hard blow to the Cuddlepie community as they are still mourning the loss of their 19-year-old co-worker, Abbey Stephen, who died after a tragic head on collision on Old Bar Road on January 30, 2018.

Cuddlepie director, Bec Horsburgh said she thinks the break in was a result of recent social media posts about collecting money and fundraising for ‘Abbey’s Lane’, a memorial entry lane for Abbey, which will see an awning placed over the entrance pathway.

The staff are devastated as the safe contained substantial funds raised from a pie drive, which were to go directly to the memorial awning. Thankfully, donations received earlier from the Cuddlepie community had been previously banked. 

“In light of all the recent events we’ve had it’s just making things harder,” said Bec Horsburgh. “I just don’t know where to start. I just don’t know how much bad luck we can get. It’s awful.

“We feel violated. We’re a community-based not-for-profit centre, and what they’ve done is taken away from the children. It’s not personally us that have technically been affected, it’s the children who are going to miss out because of this, and that’s just not fair. And I thought we lived in a great town. That’s a bit disappointing,” she said.

“And also we were doing the Timbertown Pie fundraiser to raise money for the awning … where are we going to get that money from? Obviously insurance will hopefully help out, but that’s going to be a delayed process.”

“Joanna’s really emotional about this because her complete workspace has been trashed, and she’s in charge of a lot of the enrolments for the children, everything to do with our finances, banking, and everything,” Bec said.

Police and a forensic team have attended the scene and investigations into the theft are taking place.

If anyone noticed anything at the centre that night, or has information, please contact Taree Police on 6552 0399.

The thieves even cut computer cables and telephone cords, rendering the Centre's office equipment unusable for now.

The thieves even cut computer cables and telephone cords, rendering the Centre's office equipment unusable for now.