Thieves deliver bitter blow to Liverpool housing charity

Bay TV reported the site break-in

Bay TV reported the site break-in

HEARTLESS thieves have stolen building materials worth thousands of pounds from a Toxteth housing charity.

Among the items taken from the Housing People, Building Communities’ site off Kingsley Road were 23 doors, 14 radiators, four cookers, four hobs, two sinks, tools and various electrical items which were due to be fitted in the houses this week.

The break-in is a major blow to the charity, which relies on volunteer labour and donations of money, materials and gifts in kind to keep its house prices low.

Home partners who will eventually live in the homes also spend 500 hours helping to build them in return for a £10,000 discount on the purchase price. This unique approach has earned several national awards and seen the scheme lauded as a trailblazer in affordable housing.

Rev Canon Shannon Ledbetter, chair of HPBC, said: “Our CCTV cameras show a group of men entering the site late on Thursday evening and breaking into four of the homes where the materials were being stored. It seems to have been a well-planned and swiftly executed operation.

“It’s bitterly disappointing, not least because this is a community based project that relies on so much goodwill.  We had eight French student placements arriving Monday to join four who started last week; we’ve also just received a big donation of block pavers from one of our ongoing supporters, Wienerberger.

“Amongst all this generosity it’s sickening for everyone involved – staff, volunteers and, in particular, the home partners who’ve worked so hard to secure a decent home for themselves and their families - to see the charity targeted by crooks in this way.

“It’s a real loss for the charity and the items cannot be easily replaced. I hope the people responsible are ashamed of themselves.”

Police are investigating the theft and the charity is appealing to anyone involved in the building trade to be wary of materials being offered to them at a cut price rate.

“Likewise we’ll be monitoring eBay and other online sites for any of the items being offered for sale,” Shannon said.

The items stolen are worth a total of around £5,000.

Constable Dave Langshaw said: "Stealing from a charity is a really despicable offence and I would like to reassure the community that we are working to identify the person or people responsible.

"I would appeal to anyone who was in the area and noticed anything suspicious near to or outside the charity's building on Alt Street between 5pm on Thursday, 4 June and 8am on Friday, 5 June to contact police. Your information will be looked at thoroughly and could really help our enquiries.

"I would also ask anyone who thinks they may have been offered anything matching the descriptions of the items to contact police on 101, quoting incident number 0515104473, or Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800 555 111."

Housing People, Building Communities is building 32 low-cost homes off Kingsley Road, in the Granby-Toxteth district of Liverpool. The charity has been working in partnership with Sanctuary Group to deliver the final 23 homes and the site is due to be completed this autumn. Several sets of home partners are currently fulfilling what’s known as their ‘sweat equity’ hours and a number of others are going through the application process.