Rugby chief’s heartbreak over club raid

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Hemel Hempstead Rugby Club is counting the cost of a ‘soul-destroying’ break-in.

Three different rugby clubs were targeted by thieves last week in a spate of burglaries which police say are linked.

At Hemel, burglars smashed through doors and wrecked CCTV, alarm systems and speakers before escaping with cash from tills.

When the alarm was raised at around 2am on Wednesday, chairman Toni Massa rushed to Chaulden Lane with his wife Lynn, who had to stop him running in to confront the thieves.

“I don’t know if they (the burglars) know what rugby players look like,” Mr Massa said. “But I wouldn’t recommend running into one any time soon.

“It’s soul-destroying because we work so hard and they’ve taken that away.

“Two or three of these (break-ins) and we wouldn’t survive.”

He added: “We are a community club of volunteers, with a budget on a shoestring.

“We don’t have much money, and if it wasn’t for holding events we would fold.

“We have 200-plus children who play here, and the thieves are taking this away from them. That’s what angers me more than anything.

“Our insurance will go up and we don’t have any money – do they want us to fold? It’s very frustrating.”

Thieves also targeted Harpenden Rugby Club between 5pm on March 7 and 4.30pm on March 8, escaping with a safe.

And Tring Rugby Club in Cow Lane was broken into between 10pm on March 8 and 8.20am on March 9. Charity tins were taken.

This brings the total of rugby clubs to be targeted across the county over the last three months to five after Letchworth Rugby Club was burgled in January and Hertford Rugby Club was burgled in February.

Anyone who saw anything suspicious or who has any information on any of the incidents is asked to contact Herts Police on the non-emergency number 101.

Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.