VITAL supplies at a food bank have been damaged after a stolen dumper truck was driven into a storage container.

East Durham Trust is already under intense pressure trying to get to vulnerable people struggling to cope with the coronavirus outbreak.

The charity in Peterlee has been devastated by the 'mindless vandalism' and attempted break in over the weekend.

It delivered a record number of emergency food parcels last week with self-isolating people and increases in Universal Credit claimants meaning a huge increase in demand.

On Sunday a stolen truck was driven into the trust’s container which is used to store donated food.

Local people reported the incident to the police who disturbed the intruders before further damage could be done.

But many items of food, including items in glass jars and a quantity of eggs were lost in the incident meaning a reduction in the amount of food at a time when it is most needed.

Chief Executive of the trust, Malcolm Fallow said: “It beggars belief that anyone could stoop so low, we are in the middle of supporting hundreds of vulnerable people at such a critical time and this is the last thing we needed.

"As well as the loss of food and the valuable time needed to sort out the mess, this is a major blow to the morale of staff and volunteers.”

The trust has ran a foodbank for over eight years and had risen to the challenge of stepping up services in recent weeks.

A spokesman for Durham Constabulary said: "Police were called to reports of a burglary shortly after 1pm on March 29 at East Durham Trust on Yoden Road in Peterlee.

"It is believed the suspect broke through the secure fence and once inside managed to start a site digger. They then used the digger to tip over a large metal container which caused damage to its side.

"A 17-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of theft and has since been released under investigation."