THERE were glum faces all round when devastated tots discovered their metal scarecrow had been stolen from their playground.

Youngsters at The Village Pre-school Playgroup in Mytham Road, Little Lever, have been left upset by what they have described as the “mean” burglary.

Manager Keely Wilkinson discovered the red scarecrow, which was about 4ft tall, had been stolen as she opened up on Monday morning.

The pink summer clothes it had been wearing were left in a heap on the floor.

Mrs Wilkinson said: “The children are upset about what has happened and have been saying it’s someone mean who has taken it and asking why it has gone.

“We think it has probably been stolen to be scrapped.

“We use the scarecrow for developing physical skills such as fastening buttons and zips and raising awareness of different clothing for summer and winter.”

The scarecrow had been wearing a girl’s shirt, a pink pair of culottes and a sun hat to show children about staying safe in the sun by wearing a hat. But the items were removed by the thief.

And youngsters have now also been robbed of one of their favourite seasonal treats — dressing the scarecrow up as Father Christmas in December and putting it in spooky costumes at Halloween.

Mrs Wilkinson said: “We have been here for 37 years, we don’t make much of a profit and keep fees low so as many children in the community can access it. We rely heavily on fundraising.

"We have never had anything stolen before. We will have to raise funds again to replace it.

"When it is replaced we will have to bring it in every night. We don’t think it is going to be returned.”

The metal frame had been bought by the playgroup for £50 about a year ago to help the youngsters, who are aged between two-and-a-half and four, with their learning.

The playgroup has not reported the incident to the police.