CCTV shows thieves causing more than £15,000 in damage as they steal fuel from vehicles at Sunderland-based charity for people with autism

CCTV footage has emerged showing two people stealing fuel from vehicles belong to a Sunderland-based charity which helps people who have autism.

Callous thieves caused more than £15,000 in damages to the vehicles, parked in the North East Autism Society’s Emsworth site in Carley Hill, Sunderland, following a late-night crime spree which saw them cut off fuel tanks from mini-buses and staff cars.

Two people in the car park of the North East Autism Society's Emsworth premises in Carley Hill, Sunderland, late on Tuesday night.

Two people in the car park of the North East Autism Society's Emsworth premises in Carley Hill, Sunderland, late on Tuesday night.

The vehicles are used by autistic children and young people for off-site curriculum education.

Read more: Thieves cause more than £15,000 in damage to vehicles at Sunderland-based charity which helps autistic children and young people

The students, who aren’t able to be taught in a classroom environment, access their education in a community setting so are reliant on the vehicles.

Many of those using the buses and cars will also struggle if their routine is changed or their surroundings aren’t what they were expecting.

Two people in the car park of the North East Autism Society's Emsworth premises in Carley Hill, Sunderland, late on Tuesday night.

Two people in the car park of the North East Autism Society's Emsworth premises in Carley Hill, Sunderland, late on Tuesday night.

Footage released by the charity shows two people removing fuel tanks from vehicles and then making off a short time later.

The incident took place overnight on Tuesday.

It has been reported to Northumbria Police and officers have confirmed they are investigating.

John Phillipson, chief executive officer for the North East Autism Society, said today: “Our staff turned up yesterday morning to see what initially looked like a fuel leak in the car park.

Two people in the car park of the North East Autism Society's Emsworth premises in Carley Hill, Sunderland, late on Tuesday night.

Two people in the car park of the North East Autism Society's Emsworth premises in Carley Hill, Sunderland, late on Tuesday night.

"On closer inspection it became clear that the tanks on multiple vehicles had been destroyed. It wasn’t until we looked at the CCTV that we realised the extent of this campaign of heartless vandalism.

“There’s no doubt about it, it was deliberate, calculated and designed to give the thieves a quick hit – but the impact on us is devastating.”

It’s thought two men climbed into the fenced compound by sliding down the branches of a nearby tree, carrying buckets, bottles and kitchen basins, ready to saw off diesel tanks before making off with the fuel.

The pair spent almost five hours between 9.40pm and 2.30am butchering the fuel tanks.

Vehicles at the North East Autism Society's Emsworth site were damaged on Tuesday evening.

Vehicles at the North East Autism Society's Emsworth site were damaged on Tuesday evening.

Witnesses with any information should call police officers via 101 and quote reference number 228 01/05/19.

Those people who think they may be able to help the charity recoup its costs should email Lindsay.bruce@ne-as.org.uk