A taxi firm has slammed “disgusting” thieves after a raid on its fleet of vehicles.
Bosses at Road Runners in Peterlee arrived at their base in the North West Industrial Estate to find one of its windows had been smashed and a shutter forced open.
Thieves took four vehicles, leaving its morning run a struggle as drivers worked extra hard to ensure customers were picked up on time.
The business, which was launched five years ago, employs 20 drivers as well as other staff who keep the service running.
It is responsible for a series of contracts and does frequent airport runs in addition to collecting fares through calls to its office.
Within hours, one of the vehicles - an eight-seater grey Renault Vivaro registration number NX59 PFU - was found in Wheatley Hill by John Morton, who owns the firm with Leanne Bowes, after they were called to say it had been spotted abandoned.
It’s just absolutely disgusting that somebody has done this to hard working people.Victoria Gilligan
A Fiat Doblo, registration number YY06 TXO, was later recovered from Ludworth, while and an eight-seater Ford Transit minibus, registration YP09 XZB, was found in Haswell.
A Vauxhall Zafira, registration SF10 OES, was found later in the day.
Police are investigating the burglary, which happened between midnight and 5am today.
Victoria Gilligan, company administrator, said: “It’s just absolutely disgusting that somebody has done this to hard working people.
“We have a lot of school contracts, social work contracts, so it has increased the work of the other drivers who have still got access to vehicles.
“Some of the jobs have run late.
“It’s very hard because it’s not just the livelihoods of the office staff and John and Leanne, but all the drivers as well who are working to put food on the table.
“It’s had an impact right across the business.”
The vehicles are marked up with the company’s name and contact details.
In addition to its own vehicles, a series of drivers operate their own cars for the firm.
Anyone with information about the break-in or who saw the vehicles after they were taken is asked to contact Durham Constabulary on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.