VANDALS who targeted an East Renfrewshire nursery have left staff “devastated” after smashing windows and damaging the outdoor area during lockdown.

Kirktonholme Childcare Mearnswood, which is situated in woodland in Newton Mearns, has suffered at the hands of vandals numerous times, with fires being started, fences trashed and windows smashed.

Robyn Colquhoun, manager of the private nursery, told the Barrhead News that, just before the coronavirus lockdown was introduced, yobs pulled the shutters apart and caved in windows to gain entry through the baby room.

She said: “This has been happening for quite a while and I know it has been a common problem throughout the authority. The week before lockdown was introduced, we were broken into. They managed to pull the shutters off the windows, smash the windows and then get into the building.

“The police tell us that whoever did it was looking for money but we don’t keep money on site.

“Up until last year, there had never been any major damage. We’d had people who would sit and have a drink but we’d clear it up and get on with it. Then, last year, we had our wooden hut set on fire.”

Whilst lockdown has forced the closure of the nursery, Robyn has been carrying out daily checks of the property and, every time she visits, there is more damage.

“I’ve been going along to make sure things are okay, especially due to the previous break-in,” she said. “Every time I go there, the garden has been absolutely trashed.

“At a time when we’re not allowed to open and families are staying at home, there are groups of people who are clearly breaking those rules and trashing our nursery.

“It’s really frustrating.

“Our little ones need somewhere that they can go back to and that they are familiar with.”

Robyn is now urging residents to help by reporting any suspicious activity near the nursery.

She added: “The girls I work with put in so much effort with the kids and the kids have worked hard to ensure their garden looks nice, so to have teenagers vandalising it is so disheartening."

Inspector Stevie Scott, of Giffnock police office, confirmed officers are investigating the vandalism.

He said: “It looks like youths were involved. There are some lines of enquiry we are following.”