Care home residents have been left devastated after thieves stripped a minibus that would have taken them to visit their loved ones and Christmas attractions.

The 16-seater minibus had its front bumper ripped off, along with its bonnet and headlights on November 14.

Owned by Oakland Care, the bus would serve Enfield residents of Elsyng House on Forty Hill, as well as its sister homes Lambwood Heights in Chigwell and Woodland Grove in Loughton.

The vandalised minibus has ruined Christmas plans as care homes scrambled to sort out transport alternatives (Image: Oakland Care)

There were plans to use the vehicle for a trip to see Dick Whittington at the Wyllyotts Theatre in Potters Bar, as well as other festive activities such as seeing the Oxford Street lights.

Stephen Eschmade, hospitality supervisor at Elsyng House, said they are now having to “rethink” all of their plans due to the damage caused and the public transport strikes and reduction this month.

Staff are rescheduling events and using taxis for the more mobile residents.

CCTV footage has been sent to Essex Police to help with the investigation.

Lambwood Heights manager Luciana Dobos said: “The minibus is clearly for the use of our residents and it’s heart-breaking that it has been targeted in this way.

“We had trips to the theatre booked, residents were planning their Christmas shopping at the local markets and were looking forward to meeting relatives for coffee.

“It’s all having to be re-scheduled. We also use the minibus to take residents to health appointments and staff to training, and we’ve had to find alternative transport to make sure people don’t miss these very important sessions.”

The minibus pictured before it was vandalised (Image: Oakland Care)

Joanne Balmer, chief executive of Oakland Care, said: “We are using alternative forms of transport where we can to make sure our residents are able to make as many of the planned activities as possible.

“In the meantime, we are doing our utmost to find transport for hire that has all of the required equipment to support wheelchair users.

“It’s disappointing for residents at any time of year but I think it’s especially difficult in the run up to Christmas when there is so much in the community they planned to take part in.”

Essex Police were contacted for more information on the incident.