SEBASTOPOL Men’s Shed members feel violated after their facility was broken into and valuable items were stolen.
About $10,000 worth of equipment was stolen or damaged, rubbish tipped out of bins, and a security system trashed on Thursday night.
Ballarat’s newest Men’s Shed group moved into the Yarrowee Street premises in October last year, and has worked to establish itself since.
Shed president Les Shimmin said he felt like a ladder had been kicked out from underneath him, after all his hard work over the past few months.
He said since opening, the group had worked to set itself up, gather equipment and build camaraderie.
“It has been a great experience so far,” Mr Shimmin said. “This just sends us back a few steps.
“We’ve been working to get the shed up to this standard, and then this happens. It’s a slap in the face.
“Some people didn’t even know we were here yet.
“We haven’t had an opening or anything.”
The Men’s Shed movement started in the mid-2000s in Australia, and there are now more than 1000 sheds across the world, encouraging men to be active, socialise and raise awareness about men’s health issues.
The Clunes Men’s Shed was hit similarly, with $10,000 worth of tools stolen in November last year.
Sebastopol Men’s Shed founding member Mick Minter said he felt violated by the intrusion.
Mr Minter runs the welding, engineering and mechanics areas of the shed, with valuable donated welding equipment stolen from a locked cabinet.
“It’s all gone. And someone has done a great thing in donating to it to us,” he said.
It is believed the burglars broke in through the back window and searched for security devices, emptied wheelie bins out on to the floor, before filling them with equipment and tools, throwing what they didn’t want into the creek.
Mr Shimmin said equipment including power tools was targeted.
He said they would try to recover some items through insurance, with the assistance of Ballarat Community Health.
“Some of the equipment was sentimental though. People brought their own stuff in to share with everyone. You can’t replace that.”
Ballarat Crime Investigation Unit Senior Constable Chris Brown said investigations were ongoing.
“We’re seeking witnesses to come forward to help us with our investigation,” he said.
Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers on
1800 333 000.