VANDALS have been smashing coronavirus hand sanitiser stations ‘to drink the alcohol inside them’.
Yobs have broken into the pop-up dispensers and reportedly transferred the liquid into bottles to drink.
One person claimed they saw three men fill milkshake bottles with hand gel and drink it in Hebburn, South Tyneside, Metro reports.
Other dispensers in shopping centres across South Shields have been targeted - but the problem appears to be more widespread.
A firm contracted to dispose of thousands of damaged gel containers every week has said it is happening across the country.
Mark Hall, director of BusinessWaste.co.uk, based in York, told the Independent: “It’s happening all over the place, pretty much everywhere.
“We take these away for councils and businesses, and we’re seeing so many damaged you wouldn’t believe.
“It’s mindless idiocy. This stuff is 80 per cent proof with who knows what other chemicals inside. Do not drink it.”
South Tyneside Council said it was aware of its hand sanitiser stations being used “inappropriately”.
A spokesperson added: “This is totally unacceptable and we urge people to behave responsibly.
“These points have been installed for the benefit of the whole community and in line with Government guidance around social distancing and hand hygiene to help prevent further spread of Covid-19.”
She said seven of the 14 dispensers set up at the Nook shopping area had to be removed due to damage after they were set up to help protect people during the pandemic.
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Cllr Hay added: “We are looking at the replacement but this has significant cost implications to our council.”
One person commented under the post: “There are so many mindless, brainless people about unfortunately.”
Another said the vandalism was “absolutely disgraceful”.