CALLOUS thieves broke into a volunteer group’s storage container and got away with £2,500 worth of tools.

Barry Campagna, chairman of the Canvey Bay Watch Group, first discovered the stash was gone when he arrived to start volunteering on Tuesday.

The container, based on Thorney Bay, is checked each week during the low season.

Among the items taken was a Hyundai generator, an electric mower, a petrol mower, two Stihl strimmers, one hedge trimmer, a new boxed tool set and a wheelbarrow.

Mr Campagna said: “I was going down to start work, so I went to the container to get the tools when I noticed they were gone.

“We think they used the wheelbarrow to take them across Thorney Bay where a van was waiting.

“We use these tools nearly every week, and have done for the last five years. This is for a number of projects, not just at the beach, but at grass areas nearby.

“We use them in the summer to attend to walkways nearby, to look after the Bumblebee Park and to do maintenance for the roundabout on Furtherwick Road. These tools really are vital for these projects.”

The councillor added: “They clearly knew what they were doing, taking everything of value, and for them to do it to a volunteer group is just shocking. It’s as bad as taking them from someone’s own garden shed.”

Despite the setback, the group of 20 who meet every Tuesday are determined to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.

Mr Campagna added: “We’ve never had anything like this before. But we aren’t going to let it stop us from doing what we love and we are determined to be back in action next week.

“This has been quite a wake up call for us. In the future we won’t be storing anything of value there. We still don’t know how they got in - there was no damage to the container or shroud covering the lock.

Mr Campagna added: “We’d like to thank everyone for all their fantastic support.

“A lot of people have already donated to our Just Giving page, and we’ve had people ringing up to say they’ve got lawn mowers and strimmers which we can use. It seems to have really brought everyone together.

“If anybody saw anything suspicious happen between February 4 and February 11, please contact the police. The smallest detail could make the world of difference.”

Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting crime reference number 42/23297/20.

A fundraising page has been set up to help the group. Go to to donate.