A CHARITY supporting people with learning disabilities has been left “deeply saddened” after “essential” equipment was stolen.

A tractor and sit on mower used by The Lantern Community in Folly Farm Lane on the outskirts of Ringwood was stolen overnight on Monday.

Day services manager Emma Borbely said: “The tractor and sit on mower are such an essential part of the care of our estate and gardens. The activities that take place here support vulnerable adults in being involved in meaningful work and for them this has a big impact and the question “Why us?’”

Both items were fundraised for by the charity.

The Lantern Community is a home for 53 adults with a learning disability and 25 day placements who access the five craft workshops, a shop, cafe and bakery and care for the gardens around the estate.

The charity says residents and staff are “deeply saddened” by this latest theft, and that over the last six months there have been two break-ins, where on each occasion, more than £2,000 worth of gardening equipment has been stolen.

It says the tractor and sit on mower are “essential” for them to continue with their work in caring for the grounds, and is “already missed” by the residents.

One resident at The Lantern Community said: “It feels very sad that people are coming here and taking things that don’t belong to them.”

Dorset Police say the burglary happened between 6pm on Monday and 9.10am on Tuesday. A spokesperson said: “It was reported that entry was forced to a workshop and a green John Deer tractor and a John Deer ride-on mower were stolen.

“Enquiries into the incident are ongoing. No arrests have been made.”

A grounds tractor was also stolen from Ringwood School, which was reported to police at around 2.30am on Tuesday. Hampshire Constabulary is investigating the incident.