The mascot of Nankersey Rowing Club was one of the victims when vandals struck in Flushing early on Tuesday morning.

A group caused £65 of damage when they took garden ornaments and "smashed them to pieces," and stole newspapers worth around £30 from Flushing Village Stores as they made their way through the village at around 12.30am.

Paul Lightfoot had three garden gnomes, each about three foot high and used for fundraising events in the village, stolen from outside his house near the shop, including Norman, the mascot for Nankersey.

He was driving home from collecting his daughter from work when he came over the crest of the hill at about half twelve and saw a group with the gnomes.

He said: "A couple must have panicked. One got dropped and broken on the ground, one got thrown into a house and smashed into God knows how many pieces. I turned up St Peter's Hill and found another one outside the church, also smashed."

He added: "It was a group of youngsters. Most of them looked quite ok, but it appears a small minority just decided to be mindless idiots."

He had to replace the gnomes, at a cost of £65, as he knew they were an important clue in a fundraising children's treasure hunt

Sandra Skinner, who runs the shop, said she thought it might be related to a "book burning ceremony" that local school children held on the beach to celebrate the end of school and of their exams.

She said the perpetrators had taken about £25 to £30 worth of papers that she had left out in a side alley to return with the morning delivery driver, and had "obviously found them and chucked them around the village."

She added: "I think it was the school children having fun on the beach or on the bowling green. They have pinched my papers and trashed the neighbours' garden gnomes. Smashed them to pieces."

Sandra managed to find about five papers from about 25, and added: "They don't realise they cost people money to replace things. For a small village shop that's a lot of money.

"I don't mind anyone having a bit of fun but you shouldn't destroy people's property."

Anyone with information should contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 quoting crime reference CR/42160/15, for the attention of Mark Eyres.