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Last Updated: Monday, 13 February 2006, 14:04 GMT
Break-in at special needs centre
Lagan Valley Education Project
Nine laptops were stolen and the centre was ransacked
Nine laptop computers have been stolen from a project for young people with special needs on the outskirts of Belfast.

The computers were taken in a burglary at the Lagan Valley Education Project in Poleglass at 2300GMT on Sunday.

Burglars lifted a manhole cover, severed the phone and alarm lines and smashed the CCTV camera, before breaking in through a creche window.

After ransacking the office and finding 200, they ran off with the laptops.

Three more laptops were found by the fence on Monday. It is thought that the thieves were disturbed.

The Lagan Valley Education Project was set up to help educate young people who had been excluded from school.

Tony McCabe
Tony McCabe said the impact was more than financial

The centre's principal, Tony McCabe, said the impact of the break-in was more than financial.

"It is the psychology of it," he said.

"What we are going to have to do now is to secure the building more than what we would want.

"The last thing we would want to do is to teach young people behind iron bars. This looks like what we are going to have to."

Sinn Fein councillor Angela Nelson said she believed the raid - one of three carried out in the area - was the work of a professional gang.

She said the theft would seriously affect the running of the centre.

"I condemn their actions totally," she said.

"These are community groups that are helping and providing services for people living in a very deprived area. The effect on it is catastrophic."



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