POLICE have slammed “despicable” thieves who stole the wheels from a minibus used by people with learning difficulties and left it mounted on bricks.
The caretaker of Haswell and District Mencap went into work yesterday morning and found all six wheels and the spare had been removed from the 17-seater minibus which is used by groups at the facility, based in The Lisa Dixon Centre, in Burt Close.
It meant some centre users were left to find replacement transport to take them to a pantomime last night, at a cost to the charity.
Haswell Mencap chief executive Hayley Hood said: “Everybody feels really angry and upset.
“Parents and carers just can’t believe people could go so low as to steal from us, a charity, and disrupt the lives of people with learning difficulties - the bus is their gateway to life.
“There’s a real feeling of sheer frustration and anger.”
The £28,000 minibus, which was donated by The Co-operative, had only been received by the centre last month and the wheels are worth more than £2,000.
The bus is used for day care, as well as night-time trips, including last night’s pantomime.
Inspector Vince Addison, of Easington Neighbourhood Policing Team, which covers Haswell, said: “This was a despicable crime against a charity that is integral to the community of Haswell.
“There will be people out there who know what’s gone on and I would encourage them to come forward with information.”
Anyone with information is urged to call Easington Neighbourhood Policing Team on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.