HEARTBROKEN staff at a Kidderminster specialist school have been left devastated after thieves stole a fifth minibus in less than a year.

West Mercia Police have launched an investigation into the raid at The ContinU Plus Academy, in Finepoint Way, at around 9.20pm on Wednesday, April 12.

Offenders disabled electric gates and trackers and managed to remove metal parking bollards before taking two of the school’s four minibuses, which are used to transport children from all over Worcestershire and the West Midlands to and from the school.

This is the second similar raid on ContinU, which caters for students who have fallen out of the mainstream education system, in less than a year.

On August 8 2016, three vehicles were taken from the grounds after raiders broke the lock to the school gate to get inside.

That crime was never solved and the school had to fork out thousands to replace the buses as well as ramp up security to protect property.

But head teacher Sara Devo said the latest incident was a huge blow to the children and the school.

She said: “We are a small school and for this act of damage and theft to happen to us again is awful.

“An integral component of the care and support we offer to pupils is safe free transport to and from school, often vital as our pupils come from all over Worcestershire and the West Midlands.

“If we cannot transport our pupils we cannot re-engage and care for them and the cost to society will be far greater than the cost of our buses.

“We have taken this recent incident very personally, and we appeal to anyone for help in finding our buses and the criminals who have inflicted significant harm on our community.”

The school has CCTV which is being studied by detectives. The footage shows the buses being driven off site at 9.38pm and heading right on to Walter Nash Road.

The white Ford minibuses were both badged up with the ContinU Plus Academy, one with the registration EA61 KNZ has a purple stripe while the one registered DY59 NBE has a pink stripe.

Inspector James Ashton, of West Mercia Police said: "ContinU Plus Academy is a specialist school for the Wyre Forest area and relies on these minibuses to transport students to and from school.

“This is a particularly callous theft targeting the school for a second time and will have a significant impact on children looking to return to school after the Easter break.

"We are appealing for potential witnesses to the theft and would like to hear from anyone who was in the area of Finepoint Way on the evening of April 12 and may have seen anyone acting suspiciously, or saw the two minibuses being driven or parked up somewhere either that evening or since."

Anyone who has any information should call West Mercia Police on 101 quoting incident 138S of 13 April or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.