DESPICABLE thieves have stolen two spare wheels from a pair of hospice delivery vehicles – potentially leaving a huge dent in the charity’s coffers for replacements.
The criminals sneaked onto the site of Hartlepool & District Hospice, in Wells Avenue, off Holdforth Road, in Hartlepool, some time over the Christmas period and stole the wheels from underneath two of the organisation’s Mercedes Sprinter vans.
One of the hospice delivery drivers – who uses the vans to collect and drop off goods for the hospice shops across town – noticed a bracket hanging off one of the vans where a spare wheel would normally sit.
On further inspection he discovered that the wheel was gone, and when he checked the second van he found that wheel was also missing.
Karen Witherley, area retail manager for Hartlepool & District Hospice, said: “We parked the vehicles up on Christmas Eve and when we came back on December 31, one of the lads was having a walk around the vans.
“He had a donation off somebody and was about to put it in the back of one of the vans when he noticed that the flap where the wheel normally sits was hanging loose.
“Somebody had actually been onto the hospice grounds and pinched both spare wheels from underneath the vans.”
She added: “It’s absolutely despicable. It’s going to cost a lot of money to replace them.
“To even come into the grounds and sneak about looking for something to steal is awful.
“It makes me feel sick.
“The money to replace the wheels will have to come out of hospice money. Some people just have no morals. It’s terrible.”
Karen contacted Cleveland Police to report the theft and today officers confirmed that they are investigating.
A police spokeswoman said: “The theft of the wheels from the hospice has been reported to us and officers are investigating.
“We would urge anyone who saw anything suspicious at the site, between December 24 and December 31, to come forward.”
Anyone who can help police find the people responsible for the crime should telephone the non-emergency number 101.