Thieves who ran a minibus used to supply food and support to hundreds of vulnerable Fife families off the road have been described as “the lowest of the low”.
Members of the Levenmouth community have reacted with fury after the vehicle was stolen from outside the Balmaise Community Centre in Linnwood Drive at some point between Christmas and New Year.
It was found dumped just over a mile away in the Burnmill area of town.
The minibus has been used to deliver meals and other items to more than 300 local families.
Although it was recovered, it had been stripped completely of its engine and gear box.
Volunteers have been able to hire a replacement to keep services going and minimise disruption but the crime has outraged local people who believe individuals with local knowledge are behind the theft.
The cost of a new bus is estimated to be around £23,000 – the equivalent of two part-time pupil support staff – while the hire of a replacement for the next two months will cost at least £500 a week.
‘The lowest of the low’
Labour councillor Colin Davidson, who has been involved in co-ordinating the community’s response to Covid-19, urged anyone with information to make themselves known as soon as possible.
“This has had a major impact on our ability over the past week to help families in difficulty.
“It really was the lowest of the low.
“The authorities think it was probably someone with local knowledge as the Broom and Burnmill are not on major routes and heavy garage equipment would need to be used.
“There’s never a victimless crime, in this instance the thieves have sunk to a new low, stealing from vulnerable families and children.”
Mr Davidson said the response to Covid-19 in general had been incredible, with several individuals and businesses providing incredible support in recent months.
Stuart’s of Buckhaven, for example, has provided several tonnes of food in the last year, with a new initiative called “Grab a Bag” due to be launched in coming days to support children.
It will be run from the centre in Leven and will give families food with no questions asked.
While the theft and damage to the Fife minibus has had an impact on deliveries and the transport of volunteers, Mr Davidson said he and others had been inundated with offers of support, ranging from fundraising to more practical help.
He said: “The van is crucial to what we’ve been doing, but the response we’ve had just shows you how the community can come together in times like this.”
Police are investigating the incident and anyone who may have information about the theft or any other information that may assist their enquiries should contact 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.