HEARTLESS thieves targeted a town-based charity for the third time in the last two weeks – stealing thousands of pounds of equipment from a popular PlayBus.
Bosses at Hartlepool Families First have hit out at the “scum” who broke into the PlayBus stealing a Nintendo Wii, a television, sound system, £25 cash and even packets of sweets.
The shocking incident happened overnight on Sunday - the third time in a fortnight the Greatham Street-based charity has been hit by thieves.
Staff were shocked when thieves stole clothes from their clothes bin earlier this month and then just days later discovered around £400 worth of diesel had been siphoned from the PlayBus.
But manager Paul Thompson said he was “absolutely disgusted” to find that thieves had hit yet again.
“I just think stealing from a charity is the lowest of the low,” he fumed.
“I’m just absolutely gobsmacked.
“The point is we are here trying to do the work we do for families in and around Hartlepool and we have to put up with this.
“People who steal from charities are scum, there is no other way to describe them.”
Paul spent yesterday counting the cost of the attack.
He knows the thieves got away with expensive items such the television, games console and sound system.
But he was unable to investigate any further until police forensic teams had combed the PlayBus, meaning the theft could yet prove to be even worse than first thought.
“At first glance it looks like they have got just about everything,” said Paul.
“But it could be worse, I haven’t been able to check everything out on there yet.”
Cleveland Police slammed the thieves who targeted the charity.
A police spokeswoman said: “It’s a disgrace that thieves would target a charity and one which works so closely with so many people in the local community.
“We would encourage anyone who has any information to contact us as soon as possible.”
The PlayBus N803 TPK was launched last year after the Mail’s Buy A Bus campaign helped the charity raise enough funds to replace the Leyland Olympian bus which had been used for the previous eight years.
The bus boasts a soft play area, toys and family section and an internet-ready computer for youngsters to use.
It visits Hartlepool and its surrounding villages four-days-a-week giving youngsters of all ages the chance to enjoy the facilities.
But bosses have had to take the bus off the road after Sunday night’s theft.
Paul added: “We will get the bus back on the road as soon as practically possible.
“The problem we have is if we sent it out now all we have on it would be the soft play and a few arts and crafts.”
Anyone with any information should call Cleveland Police’s non-emergency 101 number or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.