THIEVES broke into a primary school to steal a huge chunk of a brand new football pitch – less than a fortnight before pupils are due to return from their summer holidays.
“Heartless” crooks cut out and made off with a 16-metre strip of the recently laid synthetic surface at Craigour Park Primary.
Community leaders today blasted the thieves for stealing from young children.
Police said the theft would have a major financial impact on the school, which has a history of encouraging youngsters to keep active.
The pitch had recently been installed under a project to improve the outdoor facilities at the school and is understood to be part of a wider renovation project.
The section was cut out and taken some time between 6pm on Tuesday and 7.15am the following morning.
Detectives investigating the bizarre theft are now appealing to the public for information in a bid to track down the culprits.
Inspector Graeme Nisbet said: “This will mean a delay for the pupils before they can use the pitch again.
“We are keen to trace those responsible for this selfish act and I would ask that anyone who remembers seeing any suspicious activity around the school between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning contacts police immediately.
“In addition, anyone with any further information relevant to this investigation should also get in touch.”
Craigour Park, in Moredun, was among ten Capital primaries earmarked for extension work in 2013, due to the rising school roll.
It recently became one of the first in Scotland to trial high-intensity workouts in class time as part of a drive to raise fitness levels and attitudes to exercise.
P1 pupils took part in 30-second “bursts” of intense physical activity at the start of the school day.
The Craigour Park pilot project was based on research showing brief, high-intensity exercise can have a greater impact on overall fitness than longer sessions.
The overall cost of the school’s pitch is unknown, but all-weather football surfaces can cost from around £40 per square metre.
Local councillor Nick Cook said: “This is a heartless act which amounts to adults stealing from young children.
“I hope those responsible are found and they are subjected to the full force of the law.
“The pupils will be particularly hit hard by this, when they come back from their summer break.”
A council spokeswoman said: “We are aware of the theft and will continue to co-operate with the police.”