A VILE crook smashed his way into a community centre during an early morning break-in.

The man targeted Fryerns Community Centre, in Whitmore Way, Basildon at about 3am yesterday morning.

It comes at a time when the public are being encouraged to stay at home at all times as the country attempts to beat the coronavirus pandemic.

Workers were shocked to discover the mess and took to social media to post about the incident.

A staff member confirmed the break-in and said the office was left in a complete mess.

It was met with disgust on Facebook with various residents reacting to the news.

Community leaders blasted the crook for his actions.

Allan Davies, Labour councillor for Fryerns, said: “I am shocked to hear someone would do this at a time of national crisis. I hope the police are on the case, catch and deal with this person as quickly as possible.

“I really hope it does not badly impact the vital services it offers at this time, and it’s all back to normal as quickly as possible.

“The staff do a marvellous job for the elderly, disabled and people with learning difficulties. We have people in our community who need these services and support, even when the centre is closed.

“The whole community should be pulling together at this time, and most are doing so. For those who are not, I’d urge them to take a leaf out of the books of those who are doing this.”

Officers are appealing for witnesses to the break-in to come forward.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “We are appealing for information following a burglary in Whitmore Way, Basildon at around 3am of Wednesday. A man described as wearing a grey tracksuit, black and tan gloves and black trainers, has gained entry to the centre and carried out a messy search.

“Nothing has been reported as stolen.” Anyone with information should call Basildon Local Policing team on 101 quoting crime reference 42/45798/20.”