IT WAS a cruel blow that could not have come at a worse time.
All tools donated to the Arncliffe Men's Shed have been stolen, leaving its 50 members without their much-loved hobby over Easter.
The non-profit group, part of Arncliffe Community Centre, offers a meeting place for men who are lonely, retired or have a disability.
Each week since last November they get together to chat, have a cuppa and turn wooden planks into masterpieces. That was until the shed was broken into by thieves, who snatched expensive power drills, saws, cutters and joiners.
Arncliffe Men's Shed co-ordinator Keith Boog said hearts were broken in the process.
"It looks like they smashed the doors open with a crowbar," Mr Boog said. "We didn't think people would take from a community centre — it's like robbing a family.
"We have members whose wives have died, men with mental health issues. One chap is 16, autistic and doesn't go to school because he hates crowds, but he loves coming here. People come here for friendship.
"They look forward to a day to mix with men, something to do, have a joke, have a coffee. It's been taken away and we only just settled in."
The men spent almost $5000 getting the shed up and running.
"It was hard asking for donations in the first place — we're beggars, not choosers," Mr Boog said. "I hope we can get it all back. We didn't think we'd need security, but we will put in an alarm. Meantime, everything is on hold."
St George police Detective acting Inspector Brett Van-Akker said police forensically examined the Forest Road property on Monday.
He said police had the serial numbers of stolen items and were in the process of contacting pawnbrokers to see if any items matched.
The break-in occurred sometime between 2.30pm on Wednesday, March 28, and 10am Monday, with access gained via a rear lane.
Police canvassed the area but this failed to shed much light on the robbery because there were few residential properties nearby.