Thieves ripped £1K gold bracelet from severely disabled man
'DESPICABLE' thieves snatched a £1,000 gold bracelet from the wrist of a severely disabled Gloucester man.
Wheelchair-user Joe Teale, from Longlevens, was defenceless as two men distracted his carer before reaching into his car and grabbing the item.
The 31-year-old looked on helplessly as the bracelet was stripped from his hand – but was unable to raise the alarm. All he could do was lift an arm in protest and gesticulate silently.
Police have branded the culprits "despicable" and urged anyone with information about the crime, which took place at a car boot sale near Cheltenham, to come forward.
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Joe's mum Joanne Hayward said those responsible were "the lowest of the low" and offered a reward for anyone who can help to catch them.
"I find it disgusting to think that these people could do this to my son," she said.
"He couldn't do anything to stop them. He knew what was happening but couldn't communicate it to his carer.
"The worst thing is they must have watched him beforehand to know he was disabled because otherwise they wouldn't have known he was defenceless."
The incident took place last Sunday at the weekly car boot sale in Southam Lane, where Joanne and her husband John run a stall.
Joe was sitting in his car with South African carer Mamose Shabangu when two men, who are believed to be of eastern European origin, approached the vehicle.
One of them distracted Mamose, asking for directions to Cheltenham General Hospital, while the other went around to the passenger's side, opening the door and reaching in to grab the bracelet, a birthday present from Joe's mum and dad, before running off.
Joanne said: "It makes me sick that people could do this to someone as vulnerable as Joe.
"They are the lowest of the low."
Joe suffered serious brain injuries in a car accident in 2001, leaving him wheelchair bound with seriously restricted movement and limited ability to communicate.
He needs round-the-clock care and has little memory capacity.
The crime, which happened at around 1.30pm, sparked disgust among the county's disabled community.
Lindsey Tait-Bailey, who runs the Bombolulu Lunch Club for people in wheelchairs, condemned the culprits.
"It's absolutely outrageous that a disabled person should be targeted in this way," she said.
"A lot of people in wheelchairs do feel more vulnerable when they are out and about. By targeting this man, these people have not only robbed him of his bracelet but also of his confidence to try to live more independently."
Police spokesman Chris Jackson urged anyone with information to do the right thing by coming forward.
"I'm sure the public will be appalled by this despicable act," he said.
The incident is not being linked with any others at this time.
Anyone with information can contact police on 101 quoting incident 105 of September 30.