A ROMSEY-based charity has been forced to fork out thousands of pounds in repairs following a spate of attacks on their fleet of vehicles.

Unity, based in Romsey Town Football Club, Bypass Road, revealed they have spent £4,000 in the last two years repairing buses and cars designed to help over 100 elderly and disabled people get to medical appointments in the borough.

The attacks have forced seven out of their 13 vehicles to be taken off the road in the past two years, with some taking a month to be fixed.

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Now the chief executive of Unity, Terry Bishop, has hit out at vandals after a front wheel was stolen from a Ford Connect van at the weekend - the fifth attack in ten months.

Ms Bishop said: “On Sunday, May 3, we found we had another wheel removed from one of our accessible cars, but this is not the first time this has happened.

“Since we put the vehicles for the community transport service at the Romsey football club we have had catalytic converters stolen, two smashed bus windows with the last one being damaged on March 3.

“We cannot get any glass for one bus, so it is still sitting in the garage in Andover waiting to be repaired.”

She added: “It is appalling because you do not expect that to happen in Romsey or where vehicles have clearly got charity details splashed across the side of them.

“One of the catalytic converters that was stolen cost us £900 to repair and we also had to order a replacement window from France, because you cannot buy the glass over the counter; that took two weeks to fix.

“We cannot keep repairing these things and our insurance has gone through the roof because of it.”

Hampshire Chronicle: Terry BishopTerry Bishop

Unity transport manager, Karen Wood, said: “We are extremely saddened that another act of vandalism has taken place. This is the fifth in ten months with two catalytic converters being stolen within the last two years.

“As a charity, these careless acts have not only had a financial effect, but also a detrimental effect to be able to provide community transport in the local area to elderly and vulnerable people who need to access essential shopping, medical appointments or groups.

“We arrive to find the vehicles unable to use, meaning our passengers miss their support group, appointment or weekly shopping trip.”

She added: “With the kindness being shown across the country and during the Covid-19 pandemic, stealing from a charity and from those really in need of this type of service is truly unthinkable.

“This will also have a major impact on the charity itself in lost business not to mention those who rely so heavily on the community bus service.”

Hampshire Chronicle: Karen WoodKaren Wood

When asked what the charity will do to protect their vehicles in the future, a spokesperson said: “We now have volunteers who are regularly checking on the vehicles and are in discussion with Romsey Town Football Club to discuss future security measures.”

Unity last had a wheel stolen from one of their vehicles on January 28, while one of their windows was smashed on November 27 2019.

Offenders also tried to hotwire one of the vehicles on June 17 last year.

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A spokesperson from Hampshire police said: “We have received a report of a theft from a vehicle that was parked at Romsey Town Football Club in Bypass Road.

“A front wheel was stolen from a Ford Connect van sometime between 18 April and 3 May.

“Anyone with information should call police on 101, quoting the crime reference number 44200156727.”