Units were set up across South Tyneside in an attempt to get shoppers back to high streets following months of coronavirus restrictions.
But instead of using them to help boost businesses, some reportedly dispensed the gel into bottles and drank it, while others have been broken to steal the gel inside.
“Where the hand sanitisers were placed there were 14, seven were damaged and had to be taken away to be repaired,” said Cllr Pat Hay, one of the first to highlight the issue at the Nook, in South Shields.
“Some were put back but again they have been damaged.
“It’s costing a lot of money to keep replacing them and I don’t think that can continue.”
Cllr Hay was speaking at yesterday’s (Thursday, July 23) meeting of the East Shields and Whitburn Community Area Forum (CAF), which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.
South Tyneside Council, which is responsible for holding the CAF meetings, has previously said it was aware of some using the dispensers ‘inappropriately’.
The problem has also been acknowledged by Northumbria Police, which used a written report submitted to the CAF to confirm it had received reports of the dispensers being damaged at the Nook.
Freestanding hand sanitiser dispensers can retail for hundreds of pounds each.
Cllr Alex Donaldson, the CAF’s chairman, said: “We’ve had reports of people drinking the contents of them – I can’t understand anyone drinking the contents of a thing like that and what harm they might be doing to themselves.”