Police are hunting a callous thief who stole a specially-adapted mobility aid, belonging to a man with Down’s Syndrome, from Age UK’s Gloucester House in Melton.
The sneak thief is caught on CCTV as he initially enters and exits the building, off Norman Way, sits on a bench outside for about a minute looking around before going back inside and leaving with the £250 walker which was specially designed to meet the needs of 61-year-old John Smart.
Resource centre manager Rhonda Fazackerley said: “We have some of the most vulnerable people here in the centre. It’s just disgusting that someone would want to steal from them.”
Day care organiser Angie Perduno added: “It’s disgraceful that someone has been so vindictive and vicious to take John’s walker which is critical for his needs. It helps with his walking and balance, reducing the risk of falls.
“John has been coming here for over 10 years. He’s had major surgery on his bowel and only last week he had a pacemaker fitted in his shoulder. He also has a caliper on his leg to help him walk.”
John’s maroon-coloured four-wheeled walker has a black lift-up seat which he can use if he gets tired. Inside the seat there’s a small bag inside for his belongings. His walker also has a silver sticker at the bottom.
It was stolen at 4.40pm on Tuesday, June 23.
Angie added: “Luckily John didn’t have his wallet in the bag when his walker was stolen but his needs have been disrupted since it was taken. He’s had to make do by bringing in his other walker from home.
“Many people will remember John from the days he used to walk around the town with his mum, Peggy. When he was a child Peggy worked as a cleaner at the London Palladium. She used to take him into the dressing room to meet all the stars. He’s met Dame Gracie Fields, Tommy Cooper, Dame Vera Lynn and Sir Bruce Forsyth to name just a few.”
Among the other stars John has met were Morecambe and Wise and he often has his friends and staff at Gloucester House in stitches with his impressions, including Eric Morecambe’s famous ‘invisible man’ gag with the white hanky over his face.
A Leicestershire Police spokeswoman said: “We are investigating the theft and enquiries are ongoing in an attempt to identify the person responsible. Anyone with any information should call Pc 1885 Nick Lant on 101.”
Staff at Gloucester House would like to thank Graham, of Ancient and Modern in Mill Street, who offered them the use of another walker free of charge following the theft.