Police investigating after £750 mobility scooter used at London 2012 Olympics stolen from Redbridge disability charity
PUBLISHED: 17:00 12 November 2019
Police are investigating after mobility equipment worth £750 - including an electric scooter used in the 2012 Olympics - was rented out from a disability charity and never returned.
Ilford Shopmobility, based in The Exchange, Ilford High Road, rented out a wheelchair with a leg extension in early September to a newly signed up member who did not live locally.
They claimed they needed it for a month for their cousin, who lived in Ilford and had broken their leg.
When the month was up the chair was not returned.
Volunteers at the service claim they rang the renter who then apologised, and came into the store on Friday, October 4 saying they needed to rent a mobility scooter for the day.
At this point the wheelchair and leg extension had still not been returned, but the service agreed to rent out the scooter for the rest of the day.
But as the Friday drew to a close, volunteers stayed until 6pm at the storefront hoping the mobility scooter would be dropped off.
It never was.
On Monday, October 7, volunteers rang the renter who apologised and said they would bring the mobility scooter back that day.
Again, it failed to materialise.
The service had a copy of a driving licence - which it says did not bear a local address - and so on October 14 wrote to that address.
When it received no reply by October 24, it reported the equipment stolen to the Metropolitan Police.
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The missing scooter was actually given to the charity as part of the Mayor of London's Olympic Legacy programme in 2013.
It had previously been used to help disabled people during the 2012 Olympics.
Ann Garrard, a trustee at Redbridge Disability and a volunteer at Ilford Shopmobility described the incident as "a real shame".
She added: "We are a small independent charity, I don't understand why they won't return it.
"We have been doing this since 1992, nearly 30 years now, and only once before has something like this happened where someone deliberately gave the wrong information while signing up.
"Even then, that wheelchair showed up left outside our office one morning, so they brought it back.
"Something like this is really upsetting - it's a real abuse of trust."
Ann told the Recorder that what hurt more was the knowledge that the charity's volunteers would have done all they could to try and help the suspects if they had been open and honest with the charity from the start.
She added: "We bend over backwards to try and help people.
"If they had come to us and said 'we need it a little bit longer' we would have tried our best to work something else out.
"I just don't understand it."
A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman confirmed the missing equipment was reported stolen on October 24.
She added: "An investigation is ongoing and suspect enquiries are still being carried out."