Thieves are morons, says charity boss

A “MORONIC” attack on a new minibus – which was caught on CCTV – has devastated a Sudbury charity.

Go START, which provides vital transport for hundreds of pensioners, school children and people with disabilities in the Sudbury area, was targeted by catalytic converter thieves between 9pm and 9.35pm on Sunday night.

John Phillips, who founded the charity in January last year, said: “We’ve got it all on CCTV – somebody broke in to our depot, inspected three vehicles and attacked the new Mercedes Sprinter.

“They went through the bonnet of it and worked their way down by cutting wires and parts, before lifting the catalytic converter out through the top.”

This is the second attack on the group’s Chilton Industrial Estate depot in the space of six months, after thieves stole a catalytic converter from a 15-seater minibus in November.

The service was expanded last month with the new nine-seater Sprinter and two smaller five-seater vehicles, bought with a £100,000 grant from Babergh District Council, but has now been jeopardised by the attack.

“In the short term, this means the vehicle is off the road so passengers don’t get carried to where they need to go, and in the longer term we are on the verge of not being able to run the vehicles as our insurance goes up every time this happens,” said Mr Phillips.

“We are going to lose drivers as they are saying the community isn’t supporting this, which is who it is intended for, so why should we bother?”

While the theft caused around £3,000 worth of damage to the Go START bus, Mr Phillips has hit out at the stupidity of the criminals involved.

“It is moronic, as they have stolen a catalytic converter with no precious metal in it,” he said. “Mercedes have started bringing them out, so there is no benefit to the thief whatsoever.”

He added that the remaining working vehicles would attempt to cover for the damaged minibus while it is repaired.

A Suffolk Police spokeswoman said: “We are investigating the incident and have visited the victim to give crime reduction advice.

“We will be reviewing the CCTV footage. Anybody who witnessed the crime or has any information is urged to contact police on 101.”