Efforts by Rotorua Montessori students and their parents to raise funds for the school have been ruined by thieves.
After sending a flyer out advertising to pick up unwanted items that could be turned into scrap metal, parents and children spent Saturday visiting Rotorua suburbs collecting the items.
However, sometime on Saturday night or early yesterday morning thieves stole more than five trailer-loads worth of items as well as a trailer which had been left on the front lawn of the Uta St home of collection co-ordinator Ruth Thomas. "I was just absolutely gutted. I was really quite shocked," Ms Thomas said.
The items had been left on the front lawn as they weren't able to be dropped off to the scrap metal dealer until today.
Ms Thomas, whose two children attend Montessori, said the hardest part for her was all the time and effort put in by the parents and the students for the fundraising event. People spent last weekend dropping off flyers advertising the collection and then spent Saturday collecting.
She said a lot of whiteware was stolen including fridges, freezers and dishwashers. Barbecues, exercise equipment, patio heaters, bicycles and a trailer, which was not roadworthy, were also taken.
"None of these things were working so we think they wanted it for scrap metal."
She estimated that the items stolen could have netted $500 for the Montessori unit at Malfroy School which relies on fundraising to keep running. She had hoped the fundraising venture would raise between $1000 to $2000. The school had to raise $20,000 to keep it running including $10,000 before Christmas.
Ms Thomas said since the theft she had put a large sign up saying "Montessori Malfroy Primary Fundraiser" to deter anyone from taking anything else. One of the parents also planned to stay in his car with his dog at the property last night to keep an eye on the remaining items in case the thieves returned.
Ms Thomas said there had been a party next door on Saturday night with loud music which would have drowned out any noise made by the thieves. Her dogs would normally bark but they didn't hear anything either.
She said a neighbour said they had seen people driving down Uta St and stopping and looking at the items.
Ms Thomas urged those who took the items to return them to her property. She said the matter had been reported to police.