STUDENTS have been left in floods of tears after their school bus was targeted by cruel thieves who pocketed over £7,000 worth of mobile phones, jewellery and shoes.
Many of the St Comhghall’s College students taking part in the school trip were forced to return home barefooted after the callous thieves took their school shoes.
The group of 16 students aged from 15 to 16 were on a river study at the Lough Navar Forest Park yesterday when the incident happened.
Some of the heartbroken students were too upset to return to school today (Wednesday). A number of the stolen mobile phones contained sentimental photographs of ill loved ones.
The raiders stole school teachers’ car and house keys, purses, bracelet, iPhones and an iWatch.
The Lisnaskea school’s principal, Gary Kelly, told the Fermanagh Herald: “A lot of iPhones were stolen and one student who had sentimental photos of an ill family member was also taken.
“The students were out on a field trip with the Derrygonnelly Field Centre leaders. They brought them to Lough Navar Forest Park for a river study and returned to the bus about an hour later and found the front window had been removed. I think they used a screw driver and popped it out from the frame and removed it that way.
“They then stole their belongings including shoes, bags, clothes and phones. All the students had to change their clothes as they would have been wet.
“But the thieves stole their footwear and they had to come home barefoot. Teachers lost their phones, purses, credit cards, house and car keys. The kids were devastated and some were in tears.”
Mr Kelly added that the biggest insult was forcing the children to return home with no shoes. He explained how the teenagers asked the centre’s leaders if they could borrow the wellington boots they were wearing during the trip, however this request was turned down.
“Our biggest complaint was that we had to send children home barefoot. But some teachers and myself brought the kids home as we wouldn’t allow them to walk back with no shoes on. I rang the parents and passed on our apologies. Coming home without shoes was the final insult.
“The kids asked the centre leaders to borrow the wellies but were told they had to return them. And I have raised it with the centre. They did what they could but sending them home without shoes is not great. That’s what upset parents the most. I can understand that as they were feeling low as it was. We told the Mums and Dads we were very sorry they are being sent home this way, it’s embarrassing for the students.
“It would have been a nice touch if they allowed to wear the wellies and return the them the next day.
“About £7,000 worth of items were stolen. One child had a phone and an iWatch worth £1,200 taken as well as a bracelet. We understand and feel for them. Thank God no one was injured or hurt that would have been much worse.
“The phones were traced to Sligo and the police informed the Guards. The officers were very good about this. They rang this morning (Wednesday) and checked if the kids were OK.”
A statement from the PSNI said: “Police in Fermanagh are appealing for information following the report of theft from a parked vehicle at Lough Navar Forest in Derrygonnelly on Tuesday 15th September.
“The school mini bus, which was parked at a layby inside the forest, was broken into sometime between 11am and 1.30pm. A large number of personal items belonging to schoolchildren and teachers were reported stolen.
“Constable Anne Lavery is the investigating officer and has appealed for anyone who was in the area and noticed any suspicious activity to contact police in Enniskillen on 101.”
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