Children in tears after diesel thieves target St Neots special school twice in a week

Samuel Peyps School, St Neots, have had Fuel Thefts from their mini buses, pupils Ebony, Sarah, Jami

Samuel Peyps School, St Neots, have had Fuel Thefts from their mini buses, pupils Ebony, Sarah, Jamie, Katie and Andrew - Credit: Archant

CHILDREN at a St Neots special school were left in tears after thieves TWICE damaged the school’s minibuses and sabotaged their day trips.

They cut fuel pipes and stole diesel from three vehicles at Samuel Pepys School.

The damage meant plans for the children, who have autism, mobility problems and other conditions, to go horse-riding and to play golf had to be cancelled.

Three of the school’s four minibuses were in the garage until yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon but the attack meant money allocated to be spent on the children had to pay for repairs.

Police said they were reviewing CCTV of the incidents but have so far refused to link them.

Headteacher Mandy Green said: “The children were very disappointed – one little autistic boy was very upset and in tears.

“Routine is very important for autistic children and it’s important they know what is going to happen.”

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The first theft was thought to have happened on Wednesday when three vehicles were damaged at the Cromwell Road school. It left the children, who were set to go horse-riding, play golf and go out to practice “life skills”, without transport and the trips were abandoned.

On Sunday morning the school’s premises manager Graham Ward arrived and found the two minibuses with the least damage had had their fuel pipes cut.

It left the school with one working 16-seat minibus to serve 100 children aged three to 19.

Mrs Green said: “It’s not so much the cost of the fuel or the damage, it’s the fact that our kids weren’t able to get to their activities.

“We’re having to cancel out-of-school activities which affects the children’s learning as well as our role in the community.

“One of the activities was riding for the disabled for five to six-year-olds, which is run by volunteers and was cancelled.

“The older students had learned their recipes and shopping lists as part of life skills but we couldn’t get them out to the shop, so we had to change their plans.”

The school has improved its CCTV system but said it was difficult to prevent the thefts.

A police spokesman said they were looking through the recordings to try to trace those responsible. He added they were “keeping an open mind as to whether they are linked”.

INFORMATION: Anyone with information should contact police on 101.