BURGLARS ransacked a children’s play centre before stealing a safe containing hundreds of pounds.

Thieves broke in to Stay and Play, in Durham Road, Laindon, at about 9pm, on Friday, by smashing a back window.

Owners, Kevin and Sarah Walby, think the burglar could be a parent who has used the play centre.

Thanks to CCTV cameras the couple believe they may have images of a suspect. Mr Dalby said: “The thing that has made us really uncomfortable about this, is the person who broke in here seemed to know exactly where everything was.

“We think the person may have been in here before with their children.

“We really need him to be brought to justice.”

The play centre manager alerted police to the break-in after arriving on Saturday morning to find a window smashed.

The centre’s CCTV footage shows a masked man going in to the reception area, smashing open two tills and stealing the floats. The man then left.

Minutes later the footage showsaman, withoutamask, reentering the building to snatch a laptop bag – belonging to the owner’s son.

The company has beefed up security and no longer keeps cash in the building overnight.

Mr Dalby said he and his wife had been running the centre for about eight months.

The break-in did not stop them from opening.

He said: “Whoever did this ransacked the place and left it in such a mess. But it could have been worse.

“It is upsetting when you work so hard to build up your business and then someone comes in and does this.

“We don’t want anyone like this coming back here. We just hope someone recognises this man.”

Anyone with information about the break-in or the CCTV camera pictures can contact Essex Police on 101.