A DISABLED woman who has had two mobility scooters stolen within three months said she despised the heartless thieves who have caused “misery and heartache”.
Sharon Ashworth (pictured) said the theft of the two vehicles from her home had been like taking away her legs because it had left her virtually housebound.
Mrs Ashworth (59), of St Nicolas Walk in Rawmarsh, said she had been heartened by well-wishers online after her ordeal and has even been offered a new scooter by Rotherham business Parkgate Mobility.
Mrs Ashworth’s red TGA Mystere machine was snatched in broad daylight from her home while she was at the hospital on December 28, almost three months after her £3,500 Kimco Maxi XLS vehicle was taken on October 5.
She blasted the thieves who carried away her scooters and said that if it had not been for friends she would not be able to get to the shops as her seriously-ill husband Eric was not able to drive much.
Mrs Ashworth also feared what would happen to pet dog Teddy if people had not offered to take him for walks.
“I absolutely despise the thieves,” she said.
“They just reap misery and heartache. It’s like they have taken my legs away. They have taken my independence.”
After losing her first scooter, which was uninsured, Mrs Ashworth — who cannot walk far because of arthritis in her knees and hips — forked out £750 for the second-hand TGA scooter, which did have insurance for three months but which became invalid because it was not kept in a shed.
Now, Mrs Ashworth is waiting for permission from Rotherham Borough Council to erect a shed at her home to store the new scooter donated by Parkgate Mobility.
After telling on Facebook of her ordeal, Mrs Ashworth said she had been heartened by the response from people, with more than 700 shares of her story across the country.
“It has restored my faith in people after the awful example set by the thieves,” she said.
Mrs Ashworth said a police officer had told her there had been a spate of scooter thefts across Rotherham and that many people did not report them missing if they were uninsured.
A neighbour had seen the thieves in the second incident at 1pm on December 28 and described one of the culprits as white, 5ft 6ins tall, with dark hair and dressed in black.
The thieves drove away in a black Mitsubishi 4x4 with the number plate YN17 TNF, she said.
Tracy Simmons, business manager at Parkgate Mobility, said the firm had been happy to help Mrs Ashworth.
“It’s disgusting to me when someone steals a mobility scooter,” she said.
“It’s one of those crimes that I cannot comprehend.
“There has been a spate of thefts. One of our competitors had a tip-off saying the scooters were being stored in Wakefield.”
Mr Simmons said the thefts were carried out by professional thieves these days because of the scooters’ value.
Insp Caroline Bakewell said: “Theft of any kind reported to police is taken extremely seriously and officers will always work to ascertain all possible lines of enquiry, to identify the offenders responsible and bring them to justice.”