VANDALS damaged a community minibus leaving vulnerable residents on Portland without transport.

Police are appealing for witnesses after the volunteer-driven bus was targeted at around 1.30am yesterday morning.

The vehicle had been parked overnight on the car park of the Tesco store in Easton when vandals smashed three of its windows.

Two people were later spotted running off in the direction of Easton.

The minibus provides a vital service to older and housebound islanders who struggle to get around.

It is run by registered charity Island Community Action which supports the Portland community.

Journeys include taking residents to hospital appointments, on shopping trips to Tesco and on social events.

Kim Wilcox, chair of Island Community Action, said the temporary loss of their only minibus is ‘really upsetting’ for both volunteers and residents.

She added: “The vandalism has not just had an impact on our equipment but on those older people who rely on it to get around.

“The loss of the service, even though a temporary loss, is very distressing for us, the volunteers and the users.

“Our volunteers work so hard for the service and this is our only minibus.”

The charity kick-started its work in 1999 thanks to Big Lottery funding and donations.

Benjamin Scott, 64, of Easton, volunteers his time to drive the community minibus.

He said: “It is so sad.

“It is insured and can get mended but that is not the point.

“It is a community bus for all people and ages to use, it is not just for disabled people or old people.

“I don’t believe it is just mindless vandalism, everybody has a brain. This has had a huge impact on us and I hope whoever did this can realise this.

“Maybe one day whoever did this will realise how important the service is if one of their family members need to ring us.”

A spokesman for Tesco in Easton said they would be helping Dorset Police with their enquiries and would work with them to target wider issues of anti-social behaviour in the area.

Anyone with information or heard anything suspicious around that time should ring Dorset Police on 101.