Thieves in Stockton-on-Tees, Teesside, have begun targeting play areas after a Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) had its metal security fencing stolen.

It is the latest in a countrywide crime spree as the price of scrap metal continues to rise and young footballers have been left dismayed at the latest attack. The council-owned MUGA is very popular with local youths and children and is regularly used by Primrose Hill Junior Football Club.

However, the site will now be off-limits for any budding footballers as the council looks to repair and replace the £18,000 fences. The authority has deemed the £50,000 site to be "too dangerous" due to a number of sharp edges and exposed areas.

A spokeswoman for Stockton council told the Middlesbrough Gazette: "It is disheartening to hear of this incident at what is a well-used and popular facility with people of all ages. If the stolen panels cannot be recovered, we will order and install replacements."

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