Express & Star

CCTV footage shows the moment a charity in Smethwick had its minibus stolen

Staff from a charity in Sandwell have been left "devastated" after their minibus which will cost £75,000 to replace was stolen early this morning.

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The suspect stole the bus in the early hours of the morning

St Albans Community Association in Smethwick provides a range of services for people in the borough including delivering food and collecting older people and bringing them to the centre to take part in a string of activities.

The cook at the centre discovered at around 6.30am that the specially adapted vehicle, a Mercedes Sprinter with number plate DK18 ENL, had been stolen.

A picture of the stolen minibus

Tonia Flannagan, who is CEO of the St Albans Road charity, said: "We have trackers on the vehicles and cameras so we can clearly see one person cutting off the bolt on our main gate.

"There's a steering lock on the bus that had been taken off too – we have two other buses that we are scared to death will go.

"We rely on that bus for transport as we pick older people up with usually between 12 and 14 on each bus.

"We have around 70 clients a week coming in but this would impact around 300 individuals as it affects families and carers."

"We are absolutely devastated, the staff have been crying today and we are saying 'how are we going to pick these people up?'

"Thursdays are our busiest day so we need to figure out what to do – what is the world coming to when your charity puts all the measures in place and you've still lost your bus?"

And staff have launched an appeal for donations to help them lease a vehicle as a short-term solution before they are able to buy a bus that will meet the need of their clients.

People who are able to help the charity are encouraged to get in touch at 0121 558 0018

Express & Star have contacted West Midlands Police for comment.

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