A CHARITY which helps the blind is spending £100 a day on taxis after joyriders stole a minibus it uses to take people backwards and forwards to its centre.
Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind has condemned the theft and is now having to pay out for taxis for the blind men and women, many of them elderly and housebound, who rely on the bus to take them to the centre.
For many of the bus users the trip to the Mappin Street in Sheffield city centre is the only time they ever leave home.
A police probe into the theft is under way.
The bus, which is emblazoned with the charity’s name on the front, back and both sides, was parked on a member of staff’s drive in Sheffield when it was stolen in the early hours of Saturday.
It was found crashed into a lamppost on a nearby street and the charity’s insurers are now assessing how much it will cost to repair the damage or whether the vehicle should be written off.
If it is, it would leave the charity without a bus for months if it has to buy a new one and have it specially adapted.
Steve Hambleton, general manager, said he was ‘shocked and horrified’ somebody would steal a bus obviously belonging to a charity.
“The bus has our name on the front, back and both sides, so whoever stole it knew exactly what they were doing – it is shocking.”
“For many of our clients their weekly visit to our centre is the only time they leave their home so we can’t deprive them of this small pleasure.
“Therefore, our only option is to use taxis to bring our clients in. With an estimated cost of over £100 per day and the likelihood of this continuing for many weeks, the costs could potentially run into thousands of pounds which is a nightmare for our charity in the current financial climate.”
He said although the charity had two other buses they were booked up for the runs they already do day in day out, so taxis were the only option.
He said: “By the end of this first week we will have spent between £500 and £600 and although we are looking at other options this could continue for a number of months if we have to buy a new bus and get it adapted for our users – they are not the kind of thing you can buy off a shelf.
“This is upsetting because this money could be better spent on other things for the clients.”
Anyone with information should call South Yorkshire Police on 0114 2202020.