Hoodlums trash community bus
By CRAIG McTEAR
WALLIS Cummings could have cried yesterday when she saw what hoodlums had done.
The Waratah Respite Centre manager arrived for work at the Coffs Harbour Community Village at 7.45am and saw the organisation's community bus had been smashed up.
Some time overnight on Monday, intruders targeted the 10-seater Toyota Hi-Ace which is used to transport frail aged and disabled people.
They pulverised the sliding door window, removed a fire extinguisher, snapped blinker and wiper levers, broke external mirrors and tampered with the back door hydraulics system.
"I wanted to cry," Wallis said.
"We've had the bus less than 12 months. We'd been waiting for years to get one.
"You have to apply for it and wait for the funding to come through.
"The whole sad thing is the people affected by this are the most vulnerable people in society. Now, they can't go on outings.
"We have to arrange for alternative transport to get them here. I don't know how long the bus will be out of action."
The Waratah Respite Centre has been operating as a community service in Coffs Harbour for two decades, looking after frail elderly people, people with dementia, and younger people with disabilities.
Coffs Harbour, Bellingen and Nambucca Community Transport was also a crime victim at the community village overnight on Monday.
Offenders cut open a wire compound and smashed the driver's side window of a Mercedes Sprinter bus which has wheelchair access.
"We've had to re-organise everything to arrange other means of transport," community transport spokeswoman Annette Green said.
"It's a big inconvenience."
Offenders broke into another community transport bus in the nearby car park and stole fuel cards, while the passenger window on a private vehicle was also smashed.
"It was a case of here we go again," Annette said. "We've often had petrol taken from our bus at the community village."
Police investigators were at the scene yesterday examining the vehicles broken into.
n If you saw suspicious activity at the Coffs Harbour Community Village overnight on Monday, you are urged to contact Coffs Harbour police on 6652 0299.