VOLUNTEERS at Swindon Children’s Scrapstore are devastated after vandals targeted their van over the Easter weekend.

The Ford transit Luton van was parked at the charity’s base in Bramble Close when its front and rear number plates were stolen and fuel was siphoned out.

The fuel tank was also punctured. Wiltshire Police are investigating the incident, which happened between 2pm on Saturday and 9.30am yesterday, leaving the van off the road.

The charity uses the 16-year-old vehicle to pick up donations, such as furniture and DIY goods, which it uses to run craft workshops with children.

Olivia McCann, the scrapstore’s project leader, said: “We are all absolutely devastated and this will have a big impact on us. “The van is essential to what we do as it is used to bring in the materials we use. “We do have a smaller van but it would just be impractical to use due to its size and lack of tail lift, as we collect heavy furniture.”

The charity has made an insurance claim but a lack of spare funds means staff cannot afford to buy or hire a replacement.

Olivia said: “We are a non-profit organisation and don’t have lots of money so this incident will hit us hard in the pocket and also have a big effect on what we do every day. We’ve spent quite a bit of money on the van recently but we expect that the insurance will write it off and not give us a lot for it.

“I think it will be very difficult for us to make up the difference and get a new vehicle if that is the case.”

Today and tomorrow the Scrapstore was going to use the van to take redundant stock from the the NSPCC centres in Old Town and Penhill, which are closing.

Olivia said: “We want to track down whoever has done this and draw the public’s attention to this. “The implication of the damage to us is far more than just having a van damaged. “This is such a busy week for us and couldn’t have come at a worse time.

“If anyone out there could let us use a large van, with a tail lift in the short term it would be a huge benefit to us and we’d appreciate it so much.”

The Scrapstore, which is used by schools, colleges, students and youth groups, has 21 volunteers and is open six days a week.

A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said: “We were called on Tuesday to reports of theft from the Swindon Children’s Scrapstore, in Bramble Close.

“Unknown persons have stolen number plates from a vehicle and attempted to put a hole in the fuel tank.”

Any witnesses to the incident or anyone who has seen a vehicle with a X112 DBR licence plate is asked to call 101. Anyone who could lend the scrapstore a van can call 01793 513982 or email swss@scrapstore.co.uk.