Bexhill bus firm targeted by gang of vandals

Vandalised vehicles at Renown Transport Services, Bexhill.
Matt Newton. SUS-160425-105456001
Vandalised vehicles at Renown Transport Services, Bexhill. Matt Newton. SUS-160425-105456001

A gang of vandals caused devastation at a family bus firm, smashing up 17 vehicles during a destructive rampage.

A fleet of buses and coaches parked in Renown’s depot in Beeching Road were left with smashed windows, mirrors and headlights following yesterday’s (April 24) afternoon of destruction.

Vandalised vehicles at Renown Transport Services, Bexhill. SUS-160425-105520001

Vandalised vehicles at Renown Transport Services, Bexhill. SUS-160425-105520001

In total, 16 buses and coaches were seriously damaged in the incident.

And a silver car belonging to one of the bosses at the company had every single window smashed.

An iron bar, bricks, fire extinguishers and even a shopping trolley were used by the vandals to smash up the fleet.

The incident took place at around 4pm and a coach driver returning to the depot raised the alarm on Sunday evening.

Vandalised vehicles at Renown Transport Services, Bexhill. SUS-160425-105445001

Vandalised vehicles at Renown Transport Services, Bexhill. SUS-160425-105445001

Company controller Matthew Newton said he was ‘sickened’ when he saw the trail of destruction.

He told the Observer: “I walked in this morning and I could not believe the carnage.

“There’s no need for it. Absolutely no need.”

As well as smashing up more than half of Renown’s fleet of 28 vehicles, the intruders also broke into the drivers’ office, stealing two sets of coach keys.

Vandalised vehicles at Renown Transport Services, Bexhill. SUS-160425-105434001

Vandalised vehicles at Renown Transport Services, Bexhill. SUS-160425-105434001

Fire extinguishers on the vehicles were ripped out and the contents of the First Aid kits were strewn everywhere.

Mr Newton told the Observer it could cost the company around £20,000 to repair the damage.

He said: “Now for us it’s a clear up operation and to order new fire extinguishers, First Aid kits. Everything has got to be replaced.”

And once the windows have been replaced, all the affected vehicles have got to be deep cleaned to remove any remaining shards of glass.

Vandalised vehicles at Renown Transport Services, Bexhill. SUS-160425-105422001

Vandalised vehicles at Renown Transport Services, Bexhill. SUS-160425-105422001

Staff worked until the early hours of the morning to attempt to tackle the devastation left behind by the intruders.

Mr Newton said: “There are some great drivers here. Great staff.

“Every one of them is spitting feathers.

“The mechanics have enough to do to keep the fleet running without clearing up a mess like this.”

Renown has been forced to pay out to hire two buses from Hams Travel, based in Flimwell, in order to keep service disruption to a minimum.

Mr Newton said: “Although there has been disruption and there will continue to be over the next few days, there is still a local service continuing to be provided.”

He was in Devonshire Road this morning (Monday), explaining to bus passengers what had happened and showing them photographs of the damage.

He said: “The public are shocked. And I think they need to be.

“How could this happen to a company on a Sunday afternoon in broad daylight?”

Despite the vandalism spree happening in the middle of the afternoon, neighbours told Mr Newton they had not seen or heard anything.

Luckily the culprits - believed to be four young men - were captured on CCTV and the footage has been passed on to the police.

Mr Newton said: “We have got CCTV footage of the culprits.

“It’s been passed on to the police and now it’s in their hands.

“The forensic team have been here most of the day and have done their job impeccably.”

Renown celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012 and its fleet of buses are a common sight around Bexhill, with services going out as far as the Conquest Hospital in St Leonards, Rye and Tenterden in Kent.

No one at the company recalls such an incident ever happening before.

Mr Newton said: “I have never seen anything like this.

“I was a lorry driver for 25 years, I worked at Brighton & Hove (bus company) and I have never seen a company affected by vandalism like this in my life.”

He added: “I have lived in cities, I have lived in towns and I moved to Bexhill four or five years ago.

“I have just seen a side of Bexhill I never thought I would see.

“And I hope I never see it again.”

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Sussex Police on 101.

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