Kent

Wildwood Discovery Park dormouse appeal funds theft: Two held

Dormouse at Wildwood Discovery Park
Image caption The stolen money was for the dormice breeding programme

Two men have been arrested after a shop at a wildlife park was ransacked and cash for a conservation project stolen.

Hundreds of pounds in charity donations was taken from the Wildwood Discovery Park, near Canterbury in Kent, overnight between Sunday and Monday.

The money was for the park's dormice breeding programme, which has so far produced more than 170 animals for a national re-introduction project.

Police believe the thieves also raided nine other premises in the area.

Image caption Hundreds of pounds in charity donations were taken from the Wildwood Discovery Park

Most of the burglaries, in which caravan sites, clubs and businesses were targeted, happened in the early hours of the bank holiday Monday.

Staff at Wildwood said the theft had left them heartbroken.

Appeals officer Sarah Anstee said: "This vile act of stealing money donated for our vital conservation efforts that was so generously given by our supporters is beyond despicable."

Peter Smith, founder of the Wildwood Trust, added: "That money goes directly into paying for the things we need to do to release dormice.

"They are going to go extinct, and our work is one of the few practical things that are being done."

Kent Police are treating the thefts in Manston, Broadstairs, Ramsgate, Birchington, Westgate-on-Sea, Sholden, Whitstable, and Canterbury as linked, and have appealed for residents to check their CCTV systems in case they may have captured something which might assist the investigation.

Sgt Steve Moat said: "It is very unusual to have this many burglaries in one night... and we are sure that someone will know who is responsible for these offences."

Two 26-year-old men from Ramsgate are being questioned on suspicion of burglary.

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