POLICE are hunting for daring raiders who hacked their way into Swansea Tennis Centre and made off with a safe.
The thieves left behind a gaping hole in a wall and a pile of rubble after the break-in on Saturday night, which saw them drag the safe into the back of a van before making their escape.
But dismayed staff at the centre in Brunel Way say the raiders will be in for disappointment if they do manage to get the safe open.
Manager Barry Cawte said: "They went to a lot of effort for not very much. We do not keep large amounts of cash on the premises at all."
He believes the raiders, who wore balaclavas, had taken time to assess the premises and location of the security cameras before striking and must have known where the safe was situated in the centre office.
"It has been in position for 20 years so anyone could have known where it was," he said.
Despite the thieves' efforts to knock cameras out of position, the raid was recorded on CCTV and two men could be seen as they took more than an hour using cutting gear to get in to the building before loading the safe into van — possibly a Citroen Berlingo.
The incident comes just weeks after the centre, which is now run as a social enterprise, was honoured for its outstanding achievement at the prestigious Tennis Wales awards.
"It is very sad. This is a community centre, kept open by and for the local community and these people have stolen from them," added Mr Cawte, who emphasised that the building was now fully secured.
Collette Richards, chairwoman of TS365, the not-for-profit group which runs the centre, said: "Who would have thought any thieves would be desperate enough to target a social enterprise in such a manner?
"They must be very disappointed with their meagre haul, especially when they are caught.
"We appeal to our loyal users to keep their ears to the ground for any information."
Staff said that the centre remained open as usual and the wheelchair tennis open day went ahead as planned.
"It will take more than this to prevent our team from offering our community tennis programme," said Mrs Richards.
A spokesman for South Wales Police confirmed that officers had been called to the centre just after 6am yesterday.
He added that a safe had been taken and detectives were currently carrying out inquiries.
Anyone with any information relating to the incident should contact the police by calling 101.