Mystery as karate mats stolen from South Mitcham Community Centre

Wimbledon Guardian: Diane Boyd, Mike Beasley and Jean Wedja with mats like the ones stolen Diane Boyd, Mike Beasley and Jean Wedja with mats like the ones stolen

A karate club has been left reeling after hundreds of pounds worth of foam mats were mysteriously stolen.

Instructors at the South Mitcham Karate Club are appealing for the distinctive red and blue mats which slot together like puzzle pieces, to be returned after they disappeared from the South Mitcham Community Centre where they are based.

Senior instructor Mike Beasley said he would like to see the mats returned, even if it is anonymously.

Mr Beasley, who has run the club since 1996, said: "I would accept it if someone thought ‘I have made an error’ and dropped them off.

"That would be fine if they were not damaged."

The club had a delivery of 50 mats worth about £450 which they ordered from Ki Martial Arts in Plymouth.

They were wrapped in hessian bags and left in the unlocked office of the Haslemere Avenue community centre in Mitcham, Mr Beasley said.

When Mr Beasley and instructors Diane Boyd and Jean Wedja went to set up for the class, they found about 16 of them missing.

The mats are used to cushion the hard ground for when members carry out karate throws and other physical moves.

Mr Beasley said: "I started asking questions and there were no answers."

Centre manager Brenda Josiah said: "We do a lot of work for people in need and it disheartens us tremendously when people who live and work around us take advantage of the trust."

The incident has been reported to the police.

The club runs classes for children and adults and has recently added a Thursday night session to its weekly schedule.

Mr Beasley hopes to purchase some new mats to replace them using money from an insurance claim.

It is believed the mats were taken sometime between Saturday, May 31 and Tuesday, June 3.

They are used by the karate club, and pilates and yoga classes also held at the centre.

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