A DEVASTATED nursery owner has hit out at crooks who ransacked her business and caused hundreds of pounds of damage.

Corrine Strathern says she will not be able to repair the damage caused to Yumbo Daycare for several weeks due to the Government’s social distancing guidelines and fears the nursery could become a hotspot for antisocial behaviour in the coming months.

The daycare centre, which is in Bocking End, was broken into some point last week after it was forced to close due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mrs Strathern was unaware of the raid until she was contacted by a member of the public last Thursday.

She arrived at the nursery to find windows smashed and fire doors left wide open.

She said: “I went inside and saw cupboards had been opened and everything had been pulled out. They had completely trashed the place.

“They went through the kitchen and chucked everything on the floor. It was just awful.

“I was only inside for ten minutes because I was frightened to be in there.

“With the virus going around at the moment and people touching everything in the nursery, I felt so uncomfortable.

“I am originally from South Africa where this kind of thing happens all the time, but I never expected to see this happen in Braintree.”

It is unclear if anything was stolen during the break-in, however it is thought the crooks responsible also raided the nearby Congregational church and stole a number of valuables.

Yumbo Daycare has since been boarded up but much of the damage inside has been left untouched.

Mrs Strathern hopes much of the repair costs will be covered by her insurance but admits it is likely to be some time before she can return to her business and restore it back to its original state.

She added: “I live in Chelmsford so can’t get over to Braintree while we are in lockdown.

“It is worrying knowing it has just been boarded up and left.

“There are always people hanging around doing drugs and you worry they might just move in while there’s no-one inside.

“I have had some parents who have lost their jobs offering to keep an eye out for me and they have said they will help me repair the damage which is lovely.

“But it’s just so sad that when we should all be pulling together, businesses are being hit by senseless crime.”

Essex Police are investigating the break-in and urging anyone with information to come forward.

Contact Braintree police station on 101 quoting incident number 435 of March 26.