Callous thieves steal wheelchair, van and buggy from disabled Luton man
A disabled Luton man has been left a prisoner in his own home after his van, buggy and wheelchair were stolen at the weekend.
Kris Campbell-Young, 65, of Farley Hill, was horrified to discover that two thieves had driven his specially adapted van away in the early hours of Sunday morning, with his mobility aids and other belongings inside it.
The family has CCTV footage and is now appealing for anyone to get in touch if they discover the stolen items, or if they know the two men in the footage, whom Kris describes as male and in their late 20s or early 30s.
The pensioner has eight discs and four vertebrae missing after a motorcyle accident in 1969, which saw a drunk lorry driver from Belgium cause Kris to skid underneath the huge vehicle.
He also has non-aggressive multiple sclerosis.
Kris said: “We were going to a bike show on the Sunday and put the buggy and the wheelchair into the van the night before.
“But on the Sunday morning my wife said: ‘Where’s the van?’
“I said, ‘it’s out the front’. She replied: ‘It isn’t!’
“We checked the CCTV cameras which show two people driving the van away.
“It’s got a remote access key and I’ve spoken to the police who said that there’s an electronic device which thieves can use to clone your keys while the keys are inside your house - they don’t even have to enter your property and access your keys - they just stand outside.
“They can then open your car and start the ignition without its alarm going off.”
He added: “I’m absolutely gutted. Without the wheelchair and buggy I have no way of getting around in or out of the house. These thieving toe-rags have no regard for anybody.”
The items stolen include a SatNav, two dash-cams, Kris’s walking stick, a bronze and silver Kymco Agility buggy, and a red ‘Salsa R2’ wheelchair.
The van is a dark blue Mercedes Sprinter.
The buggy was paid for by Kris’s father-in-law and cost £1,500, while the chair belonged to Wheelchair Services, whom Kris says will now have go to the trouble of sorting out the insurance.
Kris is also very upset because the van cost £36,000, and also had to be converted. It was paid for and kitted out by the charity Motability and Kris uses his disability allowance to rent the vehicle.
Its features include a tail lift, steps, a docking system for the wheelchair and a captain’s chair that swivels around, allowing the user to get out of the chair and into the captain’s seat.
He claimed: “Watching the CCTV back, the men first appear in the street at 3.15am early on Sunday morning and the vehicle is driven off at 3.22am.
“You can clearly see two people come round the corner, walk down towards the corner of the house and stand by the hedge. They look directly across at our vehicle.
“They then come across, get into the van and drive it off.
“We think they may have been watching this street before.”
Kris is now left relying on his wife or son to get the shopping and cannot go with them to the cinema or theatre.
He added: “The theft has taken away my independence.
“My mother was German and my father was Canadian-English. She was in the German army and he was in the The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Black Watch.
“They would have been fuming.
“My father had MS and he had a disabled scooter where he used to live and one day these kids just turned it upside down with him on it!”
A Bedfordshire Police spokeswoman, said: “We are investigating the theft of a van in Northdrift Way, Luton, which was stolen overnight between 11pm on Saturday (June 22) and 10.40am on Sunday (June 23).
“Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call police or 101 or report it via our website, quoting reference 40/35537/19.
“Car thieves are increasingly making use of new technology to break into vehicles with remote keys or keyless vehicles.
“One solution to this is to use car key signal blocker cases/sleeves, which cost less than £10, or an aluminium tin at home. Find a safe place for your keys at home and check to ensure they are out of range.
“Traditional methods, such as locks for the steering wheel and the handbrake, can also deter this new wave of thieves, as can parking your car in a way that makes it difficult to get at.”