Thieves take off with £200 filter after striking transport charity’s bus stationed in Honiton car park

PUBLISHED: 17:05 05 September 2018 | UPDATED: 17:13 05 September 2018

The manager of TRIP Community Transport, Neil Hurlock.

The manager of TRIP Community Transport, Neil Hurlock.

Archant

It’s an incident which has been described as a ‘crime without a conscience’.

Fuming staff at a Honiton transport charity have been dealing with an admin ‘nightmare’ after a one of its ten-seater buses stationed in a superstore car park was targeted.

Neil Hurlock, office manager of TRIP, based in New Street, said the charity has been forced to lodge a £2,000 insurance claim after a diesel particulate filter was removed from its Citroën minibus with an angle grinder on the weekend of September 1.

He said: “We parked up on the Friday at Tesco, which very generously lets us use its car park to keep our buses.

“On Monday morning, we drove the bus out of the car park and it had gone into ‘limp mode’ – the engine was running but it did not go very well.”

Mr Hurlock said the driver had to return the bus to the car park – meaning a special needs user they were driving home returned later than planned.

The bus was collected by Honiton-based company Hillside Garage, whose engineers confirmed the filter had been removed with an angle grinder.

Mr Hurlock said: “It saddens me that someone has done this to a charity’s vehicle, which will result in a £2,000 insurance claim – for which we have to fund the £250 excess.

“As a result of this, we have been forced to rearrange our journeys and shuffle driver shifts while the bus is repaired. It’s been an administrative nightmare.”

TRIP only purchased the bus in 2016, after two years fundraising for the vehicle.

The charity also received various grants – and money left by people who had passed away – to afford the £30,000 vehicle.

Mr Hurlock added: “It’s a real kick in the teeth. They [offender] will probably be able to sell the filter for £150 to £200 to someone under the table.

“They will get a couple of hundred cash in hand, knowing they have caused £2,000 worth of damage to a local charity.

“It’s a crime without a conscience.”

Police are investigating the incident.

A spokesman said: “The incident took place between 4pm on Friday, August 31 and 9.15am on Monday, September 3.

Anyone with any information is asked to email 101@dc.police.uk quoting crime reference CR/080850/18 or give information anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

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