Disabled car theft victim says ‘crooks have stolen my legs’

Martin Hywood, centre, with wife Michelle and their two daughters Lucie, 22, and Olivia, eight
Martin Hywood, centre, with wife Michelle and their two daughters Lucie, 22, and Olivia, eight

A disabled man whose car was stolen from his driveway in broad daylight this morning says the thieves have ‘no idea’ of the knock on effect it will have on him and his family.

Martin Hywood, 40, suffers from the rare muscle-wasting condition limb girdle muscular dystrophy, which causes weakness in the hips, thigh and shoulder muscles.

He cannot walk more than 10 steps without great pain in his legs, lower back, shoulders and neck, so relies on his green Vauxhall Zafira to get around.

As he was de-icing the car to get ready to take daughter Olivia, eight, to school at 8.15 this morning (Thursday), opportunistic thieves stole it from outside his home in Carnation Way, Aylesbury.

The father-of-three said: “I started the car and left the keys in the ignition while I went back inside to fetch the ice scraper. It’s the first time I’ve done it and I turned my back just for a minute.

“The car was on my property, on my driveway, and the boot was less than 2ft from my front door.

“When I was inside I heard it being driven away but by the time I got outside, it had gone. I’m devastated. It’s as if someone has stolen my independence.”

Martin described how Olivia was eager to wait in the car for him but for some reason, he asked her to stay in the hallway.

He said: “I don’t know why, but I told her to just wait a minute. Thank God I did. Her reaction was: “Someone has stolen all our memories of our car trips and holidays to Leeds.” When I heard her say that, it started me off.”

Martin was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when he was 23, and it was then he vowed to help others by researching cures for the conditions and many others such as epilepsy and cancer.

Now he has been left wondering how he will travel to the pharmaceutical firm he works for in Amersham without the car that he has dubbed his ‘legs’ and his ‘wheelchair’.

He said: “It’s going to take me a while to save up to buy another car. It’s a kick in the teeth.

“How can these people take something that doesn’t belong to them? They have no idea of the knock on effect this is going to have.”

To add to the family’s anguish, Martin’s wife Michelle – who works as a nursery manager – was celebrating her birthday today and Olivia turns nine in two days time.

Have you seen Martin’s car? The green Vauxhall Zafira, registration Y957 HBW, was stolen from Carnation Way at 8.15 this morning.

It has 100,000 miles on the clock and two child seats in the back, but no distinctive markings.

Did you see anything suspicious in the area at the time?

If you have any information that could help the police investigation, please call non-emergency number 101.

Could you help Martin in other ways? Could you help him get to work? Contact him on Twitter @HywoodMartin or call the news desk on 01296 619762.

In light of the theft, police have warned motorists not to leave their cars unattended as thieves target unsecure vehicles.

Thames Valley Police is warning motorists not to leave vehicles unattended after a string of thefts from cars which have been left unlocked and unattended.

Unsecure cars are an invitation to thieves Aylesbury Vale Det Insp Joe Banfield, from Aylesbury CID, has warned.

He said: “Leaving car doors unlocked offers thieves the perfect opportunity.

“It only needs a moment for a thief to take items left in the car or jump behind the wheel and drive off.

“The simple message is not to leave a car with its engine running unattended for any length of time, whether it is left on your own driveway to de-ice on a cold winter morning or, for example, while you pop to post a letter or to pay for fuel.

“Give yourself extra time to defrost all of your cars windows and don’t be tempted to leave the car even for a few moments.

“As well as causing a huge amount of upset and stress, this type of theft can also result in your insurance company refusing to settle the claim because the vehicle was left unsecure.

“You could potentially lose thousands of pounds.”

As well as the theft of Martin’s Vauxhall Zafira, there were three other separate incidents in the past week.

A memory stick was taken from an unlocked blue BMW 3 series in Bacombe Lane in Wendover between 8.30am on Tuesday, January 21 and and 8.30pm on Wednesday, January 22,

Two cars were broken into in Prebendal Avenue, Aylesbury between 6.30am on Sunday, January 19 and 5.35am on Monday, January 20,

A satellite navigation system, a camera and a wallet were taken from a Kia Sorento after the lock was broken.

Thieves also searched a Kia Rio that had been left unlocked but nothing was taken.

And lastly, an Audi Q7 was stolen from Spring Lane, Great Horwood, at about 8.10am on Monday, January 20.

The car had been left unattended with its engine running.

Anyone with information on any of these crimes should call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.