Callous thieves stole thousands of pounds of equipment from Colchester Scouts and almost ruined their yearly camping trip.

Margaret Stickland arrived at the 9th Colchester Scouts’ shipping container on Wednesday to discover the padlock had been smashed off and eight tents and all their cooking equipment had been stolen- which was worth at least £5,000.

She had been due to take 40 cubs, aged between eight and 10, on their annual outdoor camping trip this weekend and says it is only thanks to the generosity of other scout groups and well wishers that it can go ahead.

She said: “It was just devastating, I walked in and my heart just sank, there was a great big empty space where all the equipment should have been.

“They had cleared us out of all our cooking utensils, I just don’t understand the thought behind that, we haven’t even got a wooden spoon left."

Anyone who can help with equipment or a new home for the lock is asked to email

See today's paper for the full story.