THIEVES who stole a walking frame used by a disabled six-year-old boy are being hunted by police.
The red frame, which belongs to Aston Muff, who has cerebral palsy, was taken from outside his home and thrown into the back of a van.
Neighbours say the area has been targeted by scrap collectors who have previously been seen trying to take items from gardens.
The frame was in the garden at Aston’s home in Harleston Road, Wymering, along with his car seat, lunchbox and school bag as he waited with his mum Susan for his bus to play school.
The pair went briefly back into the house and came out minutes later to find the walker had disappeared.
A neighbour said she saw a man who had previously been seen collecting scrap metal in the area stop outside the house, snatch the frame and put it in the back of his van before driving off.
Susan, 47, said: ‘It was only sitting there for a few minutes along with his other stuff and my front door was open the whole time – it was obvious that it wasn’t being thrown out and that we’d just gone back inside for something.
‘It was really upsetting. Aston was crying a lot when he found out because he can’t walk without it and he knew it meant he wouldn’t be able to go out and play with his friends.
‘He struggles with walking because of his disability but the frame gives him a small amount of independence and now he feels like that has been taken away from him.’
Aston has borrowed a frame from the Child Development Centre in Locksway Road, Milton, but can only keep it until Susan can raise the £150 needed to buy a new one.
She added: ‘A couple of weeks ago I saw someone else in one of my other neighbour’s garden trying to steal their garden table and chairs and I had to stop them.’
Police are appealing for witnesses to the theft, which happened at about 9.30am on Friday, August 12.
Officers say they are investigating the theft and are treating scrap metal as a possible motive.
Investigating officer PC Steve Galmoye-Webster of Portsmouth’s Targeted Patrol Teams said: ‘This was a calculated act by someone who must have realised that the walking frame is needed by the owner.’ Anyone with information should contact PC Galmoye-Webster on 101 or 0845 045 4545.