A DISABLED woman whose wheelchair was stolen and then smashed up has dubbed the thieves ?sad?.
Diane Barlow, 66, returned from a week?s holiday in France to find the chair missing from the car port outside her flat at Imperial Court in Station Road, Henley.
She suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which means she can only walk with regular stops because she has difficulty breathing.
She usually uses the wheelchair when she is out with her family who push her around town or along the river.
Mrs Barlow, who moved to her flat a year ago because the block has a lift rather than stairs, spent days searching around Henley for the chair.
She said: ?Since I came back from holiday I have been walking along the river and around all the car parks to see if it had been left somewhere.
?I went up to Townlands Hospital to see if someone thought it had been abandoned and taken it there but it wasn?t there.
?It takes me a long time to get around because of my COPD as I have to stop for breaks.?
After more than two weeks of searching, Mrs Barlow found the wheelchair in the woods behind the YMCA in Lawson Road, where it is thought to have been dumped by the teenagers suspected of taking it.
Mrs Barlow said: ?It had the arm ripped off and one of the wheels was missing and the footrests were gone as well ? it was quite battered.
?A group of kids were there when I found it. They were really excited to tell me about where it had been.
?They said they?d seen it by the river, by the station, in the car parks, by the garage and eventually in the woods.
?When I found it in the woods a child was sitting on it.
?It could have been stolen by anyone but it was probably kids on their summer holidays who took it for a joyride and it ended up completely smashed up.
?I am not letting the theft affect me, I try to rise above it. It?s quite sad really. I hope the people who took it read this.?
Mrs Barlow said the wheelchair was bought for her by her daughter but it only cost about £50 as it wasn?t new.
She used to store it in the car port along with other items such as a children?s tent, wellies and a child?s car seat.
?You would have thought that it was not valuable to anyone else,? she said. ?I did think about claiming on my house insurance but it isn?t worth it. They would just say the wheelchair should have been locked up.?
Police are investigating the theft.