HEARTLESS criminals stole a wheelchair and destroyed children’s toys during a burglary at a church hall.

Staff and parishioners were devastated to find swear words, offensive and explicit pictures and references to Satan daubed on the walls.

At the same time toys were trashed which belonged to the Little Rainbows playgroup, which use the hall every week.

Churchwarden Christine Hall discovered the damage at the hall belonging to St Chad’s Church, Clayhill Road.

She said: “They have caused total devastation. It seems as if it was done by a group of teenagers. They just don’t seem to care, I wonder where their parents think they are.

“I feel it must have happened on Halloween as I last came into the hall after last Tuesday’s playgroup session.

“They have managed to climb up high and get through a hole in the wall. There is a panel and a window behind it that was boarded up, but they’ve broken that and climbed through - but there is a huge drop on the inside. They have then smashed their way out of the main door which was locked.

“The children of the playgroup were so disappointed. The group has had to cancel for the next two weeks until we sort this out.

“We don’t have much money at all as a church, so we will have to clean it up ourselves. I have come back up here to have another look and I just don’t want to be here, it’s horrible.”

A spokesman for St Chad’s church said: “It’s sad the fact people would mess up toys for the little children, what can you say.

“The people who run the playgroup are very demoralised and the group is shut for this week, and next week until they decide what to do. I believe they are due to have a meeting then decide where to go from there.”

The graffiti includes references such as “Satan hears you”, “help” and “witch”.

The church is run by Reverend David Ibiayo.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “We are investigating following a burglary at a church in Basildon.

“Items inside St Chad’s in Clay Hill Road were damaged and the walls vandalised at some time between October 30 and November 6. If you have any information about the incident please call us on 101 quoting 42/161926/18.”