ELDERLY pensioners are unable to travel to lunch clubs in Sheffield after cruel thieves siphoned off hundreds of pounds’ worth of diesel from charity minibuses.
The fuel was stolen from three minibuses parked at the Leonard Cheshire Home on Mickley Lane, Totley, and owned by Transport 17, which ferries OAPs to and from social events.
Project manager Mike Finn slammed the thieves, calling them ‘despicable’. He said they had broken off the fuel filler caps on the charity’s three vans before draining off the diesel.
“We’re a small, independent charity, so something like this hits us really hard,” he said. “It’s going to take us some time to get over this.”
The three Volkswagen Crafter buses were filled up with fuel before being parked for the Easter weekend, when the fuel was taken.
“They’re normally pretty full when they’re left for the weekend, ready for the following week,” Mike said.
“The thieves were just after the diesel. The cost of fuel is rising, so it’s worthwhile these people going out and doing these things.
“I think they’re despicable. It says on the vehicles that we’re a charitable organisation, so they were perfectly aware they were stealing from a charity.”
Transport 17 has been running for nearly 30 years, catering for south-west Sheffield.
Two lunch clubs had to be cancelled after the theft was discovered.
“We take housebound elderly people to lunch and social clubs,” Mike said.
“We get some funding from the Passenger Transport Authority, but vehicle replacements and repairs has to come out of fundraising.
“When they ripped the caps off they damaged the paintwork, and the diesel was the best part of £300.
“But my main worry is these people come back.”
Jonathan Peck, managing director of Dore-based pest control suppliers Killgerm Group, said friends of the charity had rallied round to reimburse the cost of the stolen fuel.
“We just wanted to support people who need these sorts of services in Totley,” he said. “We need to get them back on the road as quickly as we can.”
A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman confirmed officers are investigating the incident, believed to have happened between 5pm on Thursday, April 5, and 9am on Wednesday, April 11.
“It appears the filler caps on three vehicles have been forced open and the fuel siphoned,” she said.