A skinny thief slipped through a 20-centimetre gap between iron security bars on a window to break into East Maitland Scout Hall and ransack its rooms.
The break-in happened between Anzac Day and Monday night this week and, apart from making a huge mess, the thief stole a box set of new knives from a cutlery draw.
A jemmied window will have to be replaced and an office door jamb repaired at a cost of hundreds of dollars, Cub Scout leader Narelle Ryan said.
The money will have to come from parents’ weekly fees and fund-raising accounts which would otherwise have gone towards children’s activities throughout the year.
Ms Ryan said it is heartbreaking to tell the children what has happened at their meeting place.
“This is not a good thing to have to tell the children and it is not the first time we have been targeted,” she said.
“There were two break-ins last year and we had to install new roller doors and gates to keep thieves from crawling underneath the building. All this comes at a price for the Cubs and Scouts because we are self-funded.
“What we have to pay in repairs is money for activities that the kids could enjoy.”
The thief pulled out drawers and went through cupboards in the hall’s new stainless steel kitchen installed by volunteers at the end of last year. A neighbour reported the break-in after she saw the hall’s doors were open.
Forensic police were inside the Park Street hall scouring for fingerprints yesterday.
“It looks like kids have come in to pull things out for fun or a petty thief was in here looking for cash or valuables to sell,” Ms Ryan said.
The 50-year-old hall will have its security upgraded with an alarm system and new bars on all windows.