Belfast Telegraph

Fury as equipment and money is stolen at Armagh adult learning disability centre

A ransacked room at the Southern Trust’s ARC Centre in Bessbrook, Co Armagh
A ransacked room at the Southern Trust’s ARC Centre in Bessbrook, Co Armagh
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

A Co Armagh facility that offers opportunities for adults with learning disabilities has been targeted by thieves.

Between 5pm on Sunday, August 25, and 8am on Monday, August 26, the ARC Centre on the Clogharevan Road in Bessbrook was broken into and a sum of money and electrical items were taken.

It was also reported that damage was caused to a number of rooms, as well as a greenhouse and a number of outbuildings during the incident.

As a result of the break-in, the Southern Trust was forced to cancel services on Tuesday, disrupting the routine of those suffering from learning difficulties who had been due to attend.

In a cruel twist, those who attend the sessions at the ARC Centre had been writing and recording music for a project for the last six months, but that work has now been lost after the theft of an Apple MacBook and several iPads.

The thieves also removed CCTV footage, cut communication cables and stole a number of items that were being used for therapeutic interventions such as electric guitars, drums and amps, as well as a safe containing money. Specialist services manager for the Southern Trust Noreen McComiskey said that everyone at the ARC was left very "distressed" by the break-in.

"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," she added.

"Everyone at The ARC has been very distressed by this incident and the fact is that we will have to use public money to repair such unnecessary damage.

"It is extremely frustrating for the staff and clients to have 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."

Police in Newtownhamilton are appealing for information and have asked that anyone who witnessed anything suspicious in the area of the ARC Centre at the time of the incident to contact police on 101, quoting reference number 559 26/08/19.

Information can also be given to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, which is 100% anonymous.

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