Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Thieves ransack and steal equipment from adult learning disability centre

More than six months of work on a music project has been lost with the theft of instruments and equipment from an adult learning disability facility in Bessbrook.

The equipment was used in therapeutic activities for adults attending the ARC centre, located on Clogharevan Road.

Intruders broke into the building sometime between 5.00pm on Sunday 25th August and 8.00am the following morning.  The thieves ransacked rooms in the centre before making off with a number of expensive items including electric guitars, drums, amps and IT equipment.  A safe containing a sum of money was also taken.  

Communication cables were cut and CCTV equipment removed during the break-in, while damage was also caused to a greenhouse on the premises.

The ARC provides day opportunities for about 40 adults with a learning disability each week and the incident disrupted planned activities at the centre on Tuesday, resulting in significant distress and inconvenience for regular users. 

The Southern Health and Social Care Trust issued a public appeal for information on the robbery.

In a statement, the Trust revealed adults attending the centre had been writing and recording music for a project over the past six months and the work on the project has now been lost due to the theft of an Apple Mac computer and iPads.

Noreen McComiskey, specialist services manager with the Southern Trust said: “The ARC offers a much valued day opportunity for adults with learning disabilities from the area, giving them the chance to develop their skills and enjoy the social interaction of working together.   

“Everyone at The ARC has been very distressed by this incident and the fact that we will have to use public money to repair such unnecessary damage. It is extremely frustrating for staff and clients to deal with the aftermath of such destruction. The service has been in operation 10 years without incident and we have received messages of support from the local community which has been appreciated.”

The Trust is asking anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity around the ARC site or the local area to contact the PSNI on 101.

Newry & Armagh MP says he shares the disgust of the local community at the break-in.

 Condemning those responsible, he said: “The Bessbrook community are disgusted with what should be viewed by most right thinking people as a dastardly and callous act. It was bad enough that vital music equipment was stolen but the very deliberate malicious damage of the ARC Centre premises and its property is a devastating blow to staff and service users.

Appealing for anyone with information that may apprehend the criminals involved to contact the police, he added “Those involved in this criminal act need to be apprehended and face the full rigours of the law. Anyone with any information should contact the police immediately.”