Disabled Sheffield student's wheelchair stolen from outside house as she celebrated England win
A disabled Sheffield student has had her electric wheelchair she relies upon for independence stolen.
Olivia Tomkinson, aged 21, was visiting friends in Fawcett Street, Netherthorpe, yesterday to celebrate England’s 1-0 win against Croatia in the Euros when it was stolen.
The £4,000 chair was locked up in the alleyway outside the house she was visiting when it disappeared – leaving her housebound.
Olivia, who is studying history and English at the University of Sheffield, has managed to find a manual wheelchair to use temporarily but if her electric chair is not located she fears she will need to find around £4,000 for a replacement.
She only received the electric chair, funded by the NHS, four months ago.
The second year student, who hopes to become a teacher in a special school, urged the culprit who took her chair to return it.
She has muscular dystrophy, which is a progressive condition.
“I am completely wheelchair dependent. My friends carried me from the chair to their house and when they carried me back outside, it was no longer there, so I had to call my parents,” she said.
“Having the electric wheelchair gives me my independence and allows me to be a student living away from home.”
In a show of empathy for the person who took the chair, Olivia said: “I feel empathy for whoever did this because if it was to sell on for money they must have been in a desperate situation,” she said.
“In desperate times, people sometimes do desperate things.”
She added: “There could be many reasons for what happened, it could have been a prank. I’d just say if you have the chair, bring it back please. I’m not mad.”
She said because there were no witnesses and CCTV footage has not yet been found, she fears police officers will struggle to progress the case.
To help find the chair, a group of friends are helping to scour the local area today in case it has been dumped.
Anyone with information about the theft should call South Yorkshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.