THIEVES stole a laptop paid for through the fundraising efforts of children at a York nursery after smashing their way into its classroom.

The burglars shattered a window at Clifton Moor Pre-school and took a computer used by youngsters for learning and games.

The overnight theft has been branded “shameful and selfish” by staff who discovered the damage yesterday morning.

A staff laptop containing administrative planning work for the Oakdale Road pre-school – which received an “outstanding provider” rating from Ofsted two years ago – was also stolen, although parents have been reassured that no personal or sensitive information has been lost.

Children aged between two-and-a-half and four-and-a-half had to use a classroom at a nearby primary school yesterday as their own classroom was repaired and broken glass cleared up, although they were expected to be able to return there today.

Nick Case, the pre-school’s chairman, said the children had raised the money for their laptop through a sponsored walk.

He said: “They and the staff are really upset about having play resources stolen from them. A lot of hard work over several weeks has also been destroyed through the staff laptop being taken.

“We are proud of the rating we received from Ofsted in 2011 and have worked hard to maintain that.

“The children raised the money for the laptop themselves and they like using it.

“They are upset about this. There is also the disruption which the break-in has caused.

“We just wonder what sort of mentality people who want to steal from pre-school children have. It’s selfishness and it’s shameful.”

The pre-school opened 12 years ago and moved to its current site in 2010. It has 55 youngsters on its roll, with 20 able to attend sessions at a time, and seven staff.

North Yorkshire Police has appealed for anybody who saw or heard suspicious activity around the nursery between 6pm on Tuesday and 8am the next day, during which time the break-in happened, to phone PCSO Shannon Stanton on 101.

A force spokeswoman said: “It’s deplorable that these criminals will stoop to deprive young children and disrupt their learning.”