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Thieves steal wheels off charity's new mini-bus in Haswell
CHARITY volunteers have been left devastated by the theft of all the wheels off their new mini-bus – the night before it was to be used for transport to a pantomime.
Staff at the Haswell and District Mencap Society arrived at their offices at the Lisa Dixon Centre in Haswell, east Durham, this morning (Friday, February 15) to discover the 17-seater propped up on bricks.
The theft of seven wheels, including the spare wheel, comes weeks after the charity took delivery of the £28,000 vehicle, donated by Co-operative Food.
Jean Dixon, who founded charity in 1976, said: “Everyone is upset. It’s terrible. I don’t know how another human being can do this to people who are the most vulnerable people in society.
“I do not know how they can sleep in their beds at night. Their families may have to use our service one day.”
Mrs Dixon said more than 70 people were preparing to go to on their annual outing to a pantomime at the Fishburn Community Centre.
She said: “It left us looking for alternative transport for 17 people at the last minute. Everyone has rallied together. Some families are helping with transport and we have had to hire another bus at the cost of £100.
“That is on top of the £2,000 needed to replace the tyres.
“It has also caused a lot of inconvenience, because it is used to help get people from their homes.”
Hailey Lamb, 20, who attends daycare at the centre, as well as a range of activities at night, said: “It is very upsetting.”
Mrs Dixon founded the charity after she was told her daughter, Lisa, was brain damaged.
The Lisa Dixon Centre, officially opened several years ago, was named after Lisa, who died aged 32 in 2004.
Mrs Dixon said: “What upsets me even more is that Lisa’s photograph is on the mini-bus.”
The charity has 96 people with learning difficulties on its books, as well as 112 volunteers.
PC Mark Wearmouth, of the Easington neighbourhood policing team, said: “Between late yesterday and 7am today, thieves have jacked up the vehicle at the charity’s offices opposite Birt Close, Haswell and taken seven wheels.
“It is clear the mini-bus belongs to the charity. It is appalling that someone would stoop to this level.”
Anyone with information should contact the police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800-555-111.
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