HEARTLESS thieves stole a bouncy castle, sand pits, water trays and toy cars from a children's play club.

Kool Kidz kept some of their toys and displays in an old LDV Box van next to the group's base in a lock-up in Tonge Bridge Industrial Estate.

But the van, not even road legal, was taken at about 8.30pm on Friday, November 7.

Two men were caught stealing the van on a neighbouring business' CCTV.

Kool Kidz director Steven Hollis discovered the theft on Sunday and reported it to police, who later found the van abandoned, with all the toys missing, in Mount Fion Road, Radcliffe, near Asda.

Mr Hollis said the items had very little resale value, but were of priceless sentimental value to he and wife Yvonne, as well as the 200 primary school children in their club.

As its lock-up base was quite small, Mr Hollis used the van parked outside as a storage facility.

Kool Kidz runs clubs at Blackshaw Primary School in Breightmet and St Maxentius Primary School in Bradshaw, as well as a holiday club, and the toys were also often loaned out to schools free of charge.

Mr Hollis said: "They've taken the bouncy castle which the kids loved. And water trays, sand pits, scooters, little plastic cars which they used to love driving about. We used all of it for our holiday club.

"We pride ourselves on having a lot of equipment and toys that we can bring with us.

"Our holiday club has 60 children so we need a lot of equipment to keep them entertained."

As well as the toys, Kool Kidz also lost some displays and artwork, created by Mrs Hollis and current and former members, which they say are irreplaceable.

The club now faces bills not only for the replacement of the toys, but also for the recovery of the van from police because the vehicle was not road legal and had to be towed.

Mr Hollis added: "When I came in on Sunday and it had gone it was a shock.

"One of the children said to us he would ask his mum if she could lend us some money which shows how much they like the club.

"We were given an outstanding rating by Ofsted recently and pride ourselves on giving a good service which makes this even more of a kick in the teeth."

The club formed in 2007 and bosses say they endeavour to keep prices low, with the breakfast club costing parents £3.50 a week and the after-school club £6.75.

A police spokesman said: "This has been reported to us and enquiries are ongoing.

"No arrests have been made yet and anyone with information should call police on 0161 8565761."