PROUD pensioner Muriel Willshire has spoken of her disgust after crooks made off with her mobility chair.
The 89-year-old former pub landlady was left bewildered and hurt after thieves snatched the electric motorised chair from outside her door on the first floor of a sheltered housing complex.
The theft has left Muriel housebound and unable to visit the local shops – the one outing every week she looks forward to.
Yorkshire-born Muriel, who lived in Emsworth most of her life before moving to The Lodge in Lavender Road, Waterlooville, three years ago, is appealing to the thieves to have a heart and return it.
Muriel, the former landlady of The Black Dog and The Blue Bell in Emsworth, said she had kept the electric chair outside her doorway as it was too big to store in her room.
The widow told The News: ‘I used to keep it round the corner.
‘I used to put it in my flat but it was difficult to get in.
‘That morning I looked out and I can normally see the shadow of it.
‘I couldn’t see it. I walked there with my stick and it had gone.
‘I rang the police straight away.
‘They would have had to have taken it down the lift – they couldn’t have got down the stairs with it because it was a heavy thing.’
The device was bought with the help of her daughter around six months ago as Muriel’s mobility was deteriorating.
‘I was upset,’ said the grandmother-of-one.
‘I know my legs are going and when you can’t walk or stand up, you are in something like that.
‘This was going to be my independence.’
She condemned the thoughtlessness of the culprits.
‘They are wicked people,’ she said.
‘It’s either a drunk who wants a bottle of whisky and will sell it or someone who knows where to sell it.
‘It was somebody who was very hard up.’
Police are investigating the crime, which was reported to them on Christmas Day.
Muriel had last used the scooter on December 20.
The office at the sheltered housing complex is not manned round the clock, giving an opportunistic thief the chance to get in unnoticed.
Olwyn Kennedy, a local councillor for the Stakes estate, said: ‘I am disgusted that anyone would steal a mobility scooter.
‘If someone has stolen it to order, it’s not coming back.
‘If it’s been stolen out of sheer naughtiness, it’s going to be dumped somewhere and wrecked. Why can’t it be returned to the poor woman?’
Cllr Kennedy is now looking into ways of helping Mrs Willshire.
Anyone with information about the theft can contact Waterlooville CID by phoning 101.