Burglar who targeted Hornby rugby club was after safe

The Hornby Rugby Football Club’s premier men’s team might have only won twice since 2019, but for one cunning burglar they are still hot property.

Club apparel was stolen during a well-planned, though ultimately unsuccessful, raid on the Denton Park-based club, with HRFC chairperson Steve Deans sure the intruder had club connections or had staked out the Chalmers St premises.

“The way he broke in, he’s clearly been in our clubrooms before. He’s jumped a fence at an area undetected by security cameras and once inside he knew exactly where he was going,” Deans said.

He would not elaborate on how the man gained access – security has been bolstered – but he did squeeze through a tight crawl space before ransacking the committee room.

“We think he was there for one thing, he was looking for a safe.”

Said Deans: “It looks like it’s had a tornado over it, he’s ripped open every locked cupboard. The committee room was not alarmed but it was activated when the burglar entered the bar area, where he forced open an empty till before leaving via a fire exit early on New Year’s Eve.”

Hornby RFC chairperson Steve Deans inside the committee room, the prime target for the burglar....
Hornby RFC chairperson Steve Deans inside the committee room, the prime target for the burglar. Photo: Supplied
No cash, alcohol, sentimental memorabilia or electronic equipment was stolen, but a quantity of valuable club-branded clothing was missing.

Club members spent six hours on Saturday cleaning up, with Deans expecting the repair bill to approach $10,000.

CCTV footage at 2.54am on December 31 – the time stamp on the images is out by an hour – showed the burglar wearing a HRFC beanie to aid his disguise as he carried a club-issue bag.

“What really upsets us is not only the extensive damage, it’s the stolen apparel,” Deans said.

“We’re funded by grants and sponsorship. The stuff we hold in our committee room is dedicated to this season, whether it be seniors, women or our juniors.

“It’s just not fair, you’re taking away from our community as well,” said Deans, who urged anyone with information to contact the club or police.

“We hope someone may have an idea on who this waste of space is.”

The man, who is about 1.8-metres tall, was wearing a retro-style black, white and red stripped top with a white collar, tan or brown chino pants and red Huarache Nike shoes.

The break-in soured a memorable year for the club, which celebrated the men’s Ellesmere rugby division 1 side’s first victories since Rolleston were defeated in 2019.

They beat Oxford in April and then Springston in the regular season, though the latter exacted revenge in the 17th/18th place playoff in July.