VANDALS armed with a crowbar broke into a community centre and caused around £50,000 damage.

The gang of four struck at the Bacup Hub, in Bacup, at around 10.45pm on Wednesday.

Shocked staff turned up for work yesterday to discover every room had been ransacked by the intruders.

Events and classes scheduled to take place at the venue have been cancelled until at least the end of January.

Owner Catherine Murphy said she could not understand why her premises were targeted. She said: “They have completely trashed the place.

“They smashed the alarm, pulled the wires through and cut them off, and used a crowbar to gain access through the badminton courts.

“Every possible opening has been ransacked and destroyed. They have left a trail of damage that was totally unnecessary. It will cost between £40,000 and £50,000 to resecure, and repair, the building.”

Dozens of bottles of spirits were taken from behind the bar, tills and slot machines were raided, and an accountancy office was also targeted.

CCTV footage has been passed to police showing four males forcing their way into the Burnley Road building.

Catherine said she was unable to put an exact figure on how much cash had been taken, but that she would have to ‘re-evaluate everything’, including the proposed move of the town’s job centre to the site.

Basketball, tai chi, car boot sales, and blood donor session are among the regular events at the Hub.

Greensclough councillor Jimmy Eaton said he was disgusted. He added: “People who do this sort of thing don’t realise the implications this has on the community. It’s not just theft, it has a knock-on effect on the children, and elderly people, who use this great facility every day.

“I hope Catherine can get back on her feet because the Hub was due to be knocked down before she stepped in and gave it a go.”

A police spokesperson said they were investigating.