Hooded thieves ransack autism charity|
CROSBY, UK: Hooded thieves ransacked an autism charity for three hours before seizing minibuses and maintenance vans worth £50,000.
The gang were caught on CCTV wandering around the Autism Initiatives site in Chesterfield Road, deliberating which vehicles they wanted to steal.
Two minibuses, two maintenance vans and equipment were taken after a raid on an office for vehicle keys.
At one point, CCTV footage shows the gang of around five men grouping together and talking in the forecourt before deciding which ones to take.
Stan Rimmer, director of Autism Initiatives, said: “I think it is devastating really. It is not as if whoever did it didn’t know what we were. They didn’t come in not knowing we were a charity. That is the thing that hurts the most. Any business is bad enough but to know they were stealing from a charity.”
The men are described as between 18 to 30 years old and were wearing hooded jackets.
A silver van, a royal blue Citroen Belingo van with the charity logo, a white converted minibus and royal blue minibus with containing the charity logo were stolen.
There was a reported sighting of the Citroen van in Norris Green on Friday raising fears offenders could be posing as charity staff.
Paul Bridge, head of transport at the Autism Initiatives site, said: “It concerns me that it is on the road and they could be knocking on pensioners’ doors.”
The minibuses are used every day to transport around 20 people with autism on outdoor activities.
Paul said: “One minibus is used for conservation work. They go to the dunes during the week and help with the restoration of the dunes. It has reduced their lifestyle. A person with Autism Spectrum Disorder has a routine and if we take that routine away, it can cause problems for themselves as well as staff.”
The maintenance vans were the only ones at the site and were used to carry out work at homes of people with autism in Crosby, Liverpool and Lancashire.
A Merseyside Police spokeswoman said: “We are investigating and we would appeal to anybody with information to come forward.”
Anyone with information can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
(Source: Crosby Herald, November 15, 2007)