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Rugby clubs batten down the hatches as thieves target grounds across Norwich

The damage done to the Crusaders Rugby Club. Picture: Crusaders Rugby Club

The damage done to the Crusaders Rugby Club. Picture: Crusaders Rugby Club

Crusaders Rugby Club

A wave of thefts has prompted a security warning to Norfolk rugby clubs, with four break ins being reported in three months.

The damage done to the Crusaders Rugby Club. Picture: Crusaders Rugby ClubThe damage done to the Crusaders Rugby Club. Picture: Crusaders Rugby Club

The Norfolk Rugby Union have told the county’s clubs that grounds are “being targeted as easy prey” by criminals, and have advised committees to tighten their security.

The first break in occurred at Crusaders rugby club in Little Melton on March 9, with drinks, a laptop and cash being stolen.

A few weeks later, thieves broke into Lakenham Hewett rugby club, stealing alcohol and a till on April 8.

On April 11 a further break in at the same club, which is based in Swardeston, was reported but criminals came away from the club in Main Road with nothing.

The damage done to the Crusaders Rugby Club. Picture: Crusaders Rugby ClubThe damage done to the Crusaders Rugby Club. Picture: Crusaders Rugby Club

In the early hours of the morning on June 7, the Norwich RFC on North Walsham road suffered an attempted burglary, with criminals causing a considerable amount of damage to the clubhouse, but leaving empty handed.

A spokesman for the Norwich club said: “We think they’re targeting clubs because of their remote location. Although nothing was stolen, we’re an amateur club so it’s a financial hit whether something is taken or not.”

The spokesman added: “We’re consulting with security advisors on whether we need to improve our security, but because all the internal doors were locked they didn’t get very far.”

The president of the Lakenham Hewett club expressed his disgust at the break ins.

Lakenham Hewett RFC break-in.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYLakenham Hewett RFC break-in. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Andy Pullinger, 62, said: “We have put our lives and souls into this club and then we get stuffed by people who just don’t care.

“What gets me is that the people who have done this have probably been in here for a drink.”

Nick Loone, secretary at Crusader’s RUFC, added: “We will go on stronger and improve, if anything this has galvanised us. We’re a thriving club with 300 young players coming to us every Sunday, so we’ll keep going.

“We’ve had Norfolk police out to do a crime prevention plan, and like other places have had CCTV installed. We don’t have loads of money to spend, but needs must.”

Lakenham Hewett RFC break-in. A door lock which was been cut.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYLakenham Hewett RFC break-in. A door lock which was been cut. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Meet the man keeping the county’s clubhouses safe

Chris Capps-Jenner has grown up amongst the county’s rugby grounds, and is now helping to keep them safe from criminals.

Lakenham Hewett RFC break-in.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYLakenham Hewett RFC break-in. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The coaching chairman at Eastern Counties Rugby Union is the owner of SAS Electrical and Security Services, he said: “Some clubs have now been fitted with a speech dialler alarms, and Lakenham Hewett also now has eight CCTV cameras. “Whenever someone sets off one of these alarms in a clubhouse eight people are called. who can head down to the ground or ring the police.”

Mr Capps-Jenner, who is also the head coach of UEA’s rugby team, continued: “At the minimum end of security, my advice is to make sure all windows and doors are locked and secure, and repair any damage to fences. Then we’ve got some clubs who are replacing windows, and at the highest end of the security spectrum we’ve got people installing CCTV which can be viewed by committee members from home.”

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