A CHARITY is counting the cost after being hit by burglars for the third time in a year.

Trust Links, which helps people with mental health issues to learn gardening skills, is without a truck for six weeks after crooks ripped out its battery.

Thieves cut through the chain lock into the charity’s Growing Together site in Fairfax Drive, Westcliff, and cut through cables and stole the battery.

They fixed the battery cover back inplace, so it was onlywhen charity workers went to use the Nissan tipper truck a week later that they realised the battery was missing. Matt King, the charity’s chief executive, said: “This is the worst time of year for this to happen.

“The truck saves us a lot of money because we can collect items, so don’t for delivery.

“We can take items to our gardens and take staff to our Shoebury site and the orchard we manage near Southend Airport for Southend Council.

“Nowwe will have to see what we can fit in people’s cars and get people on the bus. We can’t let these gardens go to wrack and ruin.

“It’s not pleasant for the people we help. They love the project and feel upset. They make the place look so amazing, so when things happen to ruin it, it’s a shame for them.”

Mr King said they would have to fundraise to find £400 for repairs cash to cover extra costs.

He said: “As with many charities, we are struggling to keep going and get money coming in to support our service users.

“We are keeping going, but this sort of thing is a setback and makes everyone cross and sad.”

Last year crooks broke into Trust Links’ building to steal laptops and electrical equipment worth about £5,000.

Nine months ago raiders stole two strimmers and a lawn mower from the Shoebury site in Elm Road, costing £1,500.

Six months ago vandals slashed through polytunnels at the Elm Road site.

Police are investigating the latest break-in, which is believed to have happened just before 10am on Wednesday, July 16, but was only discovered on Wednesday, July 23.

A spokesperson said: “Police are investigating the theft of a battery, which was removed from a Nissan Cabstar. Thieves broke into the location by forcing the gate open. Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101.”