Christmas heartbreak for disabled couple as lifeline van is stolen in Romford
A DISABLED couple fear they will be left housebound for months after heartless thieves stole their expensive bespoke van and wheelchair from a Romford street.
Eric and Susan Murdoch have appealed for the return of the silver Renault Traffic people-carrier and the electric wheelchair, which had been inside the vehicle, after they were taken from outside a home in Knighton Road, between 4.30pm and 8pm on Saturday (December 4).
Eric - who has osteoarthritis in his knees and walks with a stick, and his wheelchair-bound wife who has a litany of serious health problems - now fear they could wait six months for replacements.
“It could take anything up to four to six months for the insurance investigation and then to adapt a van and the wheelchair,” said Eric, who gave up his full-time job as an HGV driver to become full-time carer to his wife in 2003.
“That van was our savior. We haven’t had much luck recently with our combined health troubles – we’re both so upset.”
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Eric urged the thieves to search their consciences and give up the items.
“If anyone has seen either the van or the wheelchair please contact police,” he added.
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The �22,000 van, which they rent from specalist charity Motability for �184 a month, had been specially modified for the pair, with a wheelchair ramp for Susan and hand-controlled break levers to allow Eric, 58, to drive.
The couple, from Bethnal Green, east London, had been visiting Eric’s sister in Romford when, it is believed, a member of the family dropped the keys which were later found by an opportunistic crook.
Former receptionist Susan, 57, said: “That van meant everything to me. I was able to go places and see things that I hadn’t been able to for years. It gave me a degree of independence again. I’m absolutely gutted about this. If we don’t get it back we’ll be stuck indoors for Christmas.”
DI Chris Krelle, from Havering Police, said: “It is especially distressing to hear that a specially adapted vehicle such as this has been taken. We are very aware of the difficulties losing a vehicle can have to those who need it for mobility purposes and we have circulated the vehicle as stolen.”
Anyone with information about the van, which has blacked-out windows and registration number YJ58 GWE, or the wheelchair, should contact Romford Police Station on: 0300 123 1212.
DI Krelle added: “To date we have not received any further information relating to the vehicles current location. The Metropolitan Police Havering in partnership with the London Borough of Havering are currently running a number of campaigns relating to vehicle security including the Lock, Lift and Check campaign encouraging drivers to check that they have locked their vehicle prior to leaving it unattended.”