WIDOW Avril Boydell will always cherish memories of sitting with husband Bob on the love seat in their garden.
And after he died of lung cancer five years ago, the S-shaped bench was a treasured reminder of the precious time they spent together.
But now it is gone – stolen by scrap metal thieves from Mrs Boydell’s home in Three Ton Close, Portsea.
The thieves also stole a large matching iron garden table and four chairs.
Choking back tears, Mrs Boydell, 69, said: ‘I’m still in shock, it’s so awful.
‘That seat was precious to me.
‘Towards the end of his life it was one of the only things Bob could do.
‘We used to sit and watch the builders putting up the lipstick tower in Gunwharf and enjoy being together.
‘That was our little bit of pleasure, and now I feel like it’s gone.
‘I keep wondering what sort of wicked people would do that.’
Mrs Boydell has visited a number of local scrap dealers who agreed to keep their eyes peeled for the bench.
Police are carrying out investigations, and are looking into CCTV footage that covers the area.
Door-to-door inquiries are being carried out by officers after one neighbour reported hearing a van running for around 15 minutes outside the property during the night the items were taken.
Mrs Boydell added: ‘I never thought anyone could get into my garden because the door had a bolt and a padlock on it.
‘So I couldn’t believe it when I went outside and saw the lock was broken and lying on the ground.
‘It looks so bare out there now – it’s horrible.
‘I want my love seat back, it was so sentimental and it meant everything to me. I don’t want a new one, I just want my one back.’
Police are appealing for witnesses to the theft which took place between 8pm on Thursday, January 26 and 9.20am on Friday, January 27.
Anyone with any information should contact PC David Merryweather at Fratton police station on 101 or 0845 045 4545, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
IT will soon be illegal to sell scrap metal for cash, the government has announced.
New legislation to prohibit the use of cash to pay for scrap metal will come into force this year.
Ministers have also vowed to increase penalties available to the courts to punish ‘unscrupulous scrap metal dealers’ and make available unlimited fines for the most serious offenders.
The news follows a pressure campaign from MP for Portsmouth South Mike Hancock urging the government to tackle the problem of metal theft.
He said: ‘I am delighted that ministers are finally taking the matter seriously.
‘We have to put a stop to people getting a quick fix of cash for tearing out wires from train lines and CCTV, and this is a step in the right direction towards ending that.
‘But I don’t think it goes far enough.
‘There needs to be legislation put in place to introduce proper records of sales with compulsory names and addresses of the sellers.
‘And we have to find a way of breaking down the chain of people involved from theft to sale.’
Mr Hancock had previously introduced an Early Day Motion which received widespread cross-party support following the theft of metal plates from the war memorial in Kingston Cemetery, Fratton.
by SHEANNE MULHOLLAND