VANDALS have stolen plants from a shopping parade for the second time in two months.

West Road Community and Traders’ Association has been targeted again by thieves who dug up a large buxus flowering shrub from West Road, Shoebury.

Yobs also sprayed blackmarkings across flowerbeds which were paid for by donations.

The bush, which is about two feet tall, was taken between 6pm on Monday, May 12, and 10am on Wednesday, May 14.

Its disappearance was discovered by Peter Edwards, who works in Taylor Edwards locksmiths, in West Road.

He said: “These plants are a result of donations from people in the street to a charity trying to brighten up the town.

“For the people who planted and tend to them, including myself, it feels like a punch in the gut. We have been putting all this effort in to keeping these alive and no one seems to appreciate it. It’s as if every effort to try to make the road more presentable seems to be harmed by the minority of idiots.”

Traders believe someone must have driven up to the planter, by the pharmacy inWest Road, and used gardening equipment to remove the deeply-rooted shrub.

Thieves also stole three other buxus plants, worth about £300, between 10pm on Thursday, March 13, and 6.15am on Friday, March 14.

Mr Edwards’ mother Angela, 61, added: “People need as much uplift and confidence as they can get to encourage them to spend, which generates work.

“People had made very generous offers to fund these plants and were pleased to see us improving the area.

“It may seem a small thing, but it’s part of a depressing picture.”

Nine planters and two benches were installed along the road in June, thanks to business and resident donations, plus £2,500 from social enterprise the Community Development Foundation and £1,000 from Essex Co-operative Society Chelmsford Star.

Police are investigating.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact PC Sharon Blaxland at Shoebury on 101, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.