Thieves steal, set alight community bus used for the elderly
ELDERLY residents will no longer be able to go out and about on their adventures thanks to three men who stole and then burnt their community bus - but a Rockhampton business has stepped in to try to help.
PresCare's Alexandra Gardens community bus was stolen from Lawrence's Holden in North Rockhampton, where it was booked in to get a light fixed, and then set alight at Park St, Park Avenue.
Police were called to the incident around 5.30am on Monday morning. It has been confirmed the bus theft and van is connected to an armed robbery carried out by three men at Barlett's Tavern around 5am.
Arlye Bray is one of the 94 residents at the residential aged care facility and she is devastated at the news of the bus.
She regularly goes out on trips in the bus to the cinemas, The Causeway for fish and chips and outings.
"But now we can't do that because they have no bus ... it's not here now to take us shopping or anything,” she said.
"It's awful what people can do, what do they get out of it?”
Norma Schneider is another resident and she was astounded at "what the world was coming to”.
"I go out on trips wherever I can, it's very good,” she said.
Her fondest memories were going to Parkhurst Child Care when she visited all the children in their rooms.
"We all like to go out on it,” she said.
Rockhampton Battery World's Tracy Wren said she was shocked to hear about the incident.
"We have provided batteries to the centre and the bus was pretty old, so insurance will only go so far, so we are kicking off with $500 to start fundraising to help PresCare meet any shortfall,” Mrs Wren said.
"Aged care centres have so many areas of critical care that requires funding, that it is saddening when wilful destruction impacts on our seniors' lives.”
Alexandra Gardens Lifestyle Coordinator Kathy Lowe said the van was equipped with wheelchair access, so it meant activities were inclusive of many residents.
"Staying socially active reduces the risk for mental health issues, it reduces isolation and loneliness; many residents do not see their family and friends as much as they used to, so social outings with their new friends creates a sense of belonging,” she said.
"It's just the independence, they have lost all that, the opportunity to do things you and I take for granted.
"When I saw pictures I was just distraught, it's our lifeblood within our community, without the bus it is too difficult for residents with mobility issues, it has a lift so they can be able to get out.”
On the last outing the residents decided they wanted to look at cows so they went for a drive around cattle paddocks.
"Our residents will suffer. We will try out best to get them out but it will be difficult,” Mrs Lowe said.