Yobs who stole charity money from a Weymouth beauty spot are believed to have used a sledgehammer to smash their way in to grab the cash.

Members of the community have spoken of their shock and sadness after the charitable funds were stolen in what has been described as a 'mindless' attack.

Police are investigating damage caused to the wishing well feature at Greenhill Gardens with money stolen from inside.

The wishing well, which was donated by Melcombe Regis Rotary Club, has stood in the lower garden of Greenhill for 30 years.

Any money thrown into the well is collected and presented to the food bank and local charities.

Rotary Club member Paul Tindall, who was club president when the well was installed, said the club was 'shocked at the mindless vandalisation'.

"This is more than petty vandalism," Mr Tindall said. "They didn't just break the locks, they have smashed the masonry and bricks. To do that they must have used a heavy object like a sledgehammer or chisel."

He added: "It's a sad indictment of society. What world are we living in when someone wants to destroy something which raises money for people in need? It's part of the community's heritage - it beggars belief."

He said the wishing well raised around £500 to £600 each year for charity.

Former Rotary president, Bill White said: "There are people around who seem to get some sort of kick out of destroying things. It's very sad. It is one of the first projects the Rotary Club ever did."

He added the club was determined to stay positive and now the main aim was to get the well repaired.

"It is coming up to our prime collecting time when visitors come to the town, so the whole point is to get it back up and running as soon as possible. We are putting feelers out to various people to try and get it repaired urgently," Mr White said.

He added fortunately the well had been emptied in recent weeks so it was hoped not too much money had been taken.

Cllr Kate Wheller, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council spokesman for community facilities, said: “We are shocked and saddened that money has been stolen from the Melcombe Regis Rotary Club wishing well in Greenhill Gardens.

"The money is collected and used to benefit the wider community so I hope those responsible realise the gravity of what they’ve done. The matter has been reported to the police and we will continue to help them with their inquiries.”

Police said they are making enquiries but so far no arrests have been made.

It happened some time between 4pm on Tuesday, July 3 and 9.30am the following day.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police at dorset.police.uk, via email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55180104081.