Toys, keepsakes, painted stones and play equipment have been destroyed and stolen during the latest in a series of attacks on an Elgin nursery.
Devastated staff and youngsters at the Jack and Jill nursery have been left counting the cost of an attack by vandals for the second time in a matter of days.
And they also faced crude and explicit drawings which were scrawled on outdoor blackboards.
The nursery has urged neighbours to be vigilant to spot any further incidents as they happen and also to protect their own properties.
The attacks on the Jack and Jill Nursery reached a peak at the weekend with the destruction of children’s toys and other items.
Staff estimate several thousands pounds of damage was caused– but the final total remains uncertain as additional items are still being discovered missing.
The latest incident meant the nursery, which is near Elgin High School, was unable to open as expected on Monday following the Easter holidays.
Deep-cleaning continued throughout the day, with staff and children returning yesterday, though damage still remained.
Space hoppers and fairies stolen from nursery
Lauren Hayward, is the managing director of family-run operator Torridon Education Group, which has nurseries in Elgin and Lossiemouth, and said the repeated acts of vandalism have left staff devastated.
She said: “We had been closed for the holidays and were all locked up but we did have a member of staff coming in last week and they found mess everywhere.
“It was all tidied up again but then we came in on Monday to discover a lot more damage had been done.
“It is just needless violence and is so upsetting to come in and see in the morning.”
“Since it happened a few people who live nearby have contacted us to say they did see kids playing in the garden at the weekend.”
The damage caused at the weekend was extensive and included plants being dug out and their pots smashed.
Space hoppers, fairy garden animals and painted stones have all been reported stolen or are missing.
A toy kitchen area was damaged, with plastic food, plates and baskets broken, while the mud kitchen was trashed and a toaster, kettle and microwave destroyed.
A tepee tent, grit machine and shed were targeted and storage sheds were vandalised.
Some of those items may need to be completely replaced.
Offensive drawings were also scrawled over outdoor chalkboards and a clear plastic painting wall, wendy house and water wall were all attacked.
Nursery warns other Elgin operators to be vigilant
Some replacement items have already been purchased.
Mrs Hayward has encouraged other premises to be vigilant and take extra precautions in the coming weeks – while also asking neighbours to report any unexpected intrusions to the Jack and Jill Nursery.
She said: “We’ve tried lots of things to stop it from happening. This is the worst that it has ever been though.
“From what we understand, it has been something that has been going round in Elgin so it’s important that people know about it.
“It’s all just so needless. They’ve smashed plates and plastic fruit. I just hope we’re able to wash the drawings of genitals off the chalkboards.
“We just have to do our best to try and tidy up.”
Police officers visited the nursery this week to inspect the damage for themselves.
A spokeswoman confirmed they were investigating the incident and said officers had received reports of a break-in and vandalism at Wardend Place in Elgin at 4pm on Saturday.
Anyone who knows who is responsible is asked to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.