THIEVES left a hospice £3,000 out of pocket after stealing a catalytic converter from one of the charity’s vans.

The Witney-based vehicle is used to pick up large furniture donations to sell at Sobell House Hospice’s charity shops and is one of only two in the county.

The thief used a saw to cut the converter out, which will cost about £490 to replace, and did about £2,000 damage to the engine’s electrics.

Sobell has been unable to pick up donations for three days, costing the charity about £1,000 in lost trade.

The theft took place at the charity’s Witney warehouse in Station Lane on Sunday at about 8.45pm.

Louise Musgrove, Sobell trading manager, said: “I’m appalled that someone could do this.”

Spires Auto Centre in Witney attempted to replace the converter yesterday without charging for labour, but was unable to fix the damaged sensors.

The van has now gone to Mercedes-Benz dealership in Cassington to be repaired. The company has loaned a van to Sobell until the vehicle is fixed.