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Boy loses his precious lifeline

PUBLISHED: 16:11 20 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:21 03 March 2010

THE family of a young asthma sufferer whose bike was his lifeline, today appealed for the thieves who stole it to have a conscience and return it.

Joe Smith, who also suffers from learning difficulties due to a rare eye condition, left the bike – his birthday present – outside Felixstowe Leisure Centre for just two minutes after being "caught short" and needing the toilet.

THE family of a young asthma sufferer whose bike was his lifeline, today appealed for the thieves who stole it to have a conscience and return it.

Joe Smith, who also suffers from learning difficulties due to a rare eye condition, left the bike – his birthday present – outside Felixstowe Leisure Centre for just two minutes after being "caught short" and needing the toilet.

But when he came out, his new Concept Diablo suspension bike had gone.

Joe, 12, relied on the bicycle to get him around Felixstowe because his asthma leaves him unable to walk far without enduring an asthma attack.

His mum Julie Smith said: "He was really proud of his new bike – he had it for his birthday, and there is no way we can afford to replace it.

"He left it for just a couple of minutes. He put it in the rack outside the leisure centre and ran in to go to the toilet, but he didn't lock it. When he came out it was gone.

"All he can remember is seeing a group of boys sitting on a wall and perhaps they may have seen someone touching the bike."

Joe, a pupil at Orwell High School, alerted police immediately and officers started looking for the bright blue and yellow cycle, worth about £100, all over Felixstowe, but it has so far not been found.

Joe, his mum, dad Pete, his brother and two sisters, who live in Felixstowe, hope someone may see the bike – which has distinguishing marks the police are aware of – discarded or dumped or that the thieves will give it back.

"It would be nice if these people had a conscience and gave it back or put it somewhere where it could be found and returned. That bike was a lifeline to Joe – he went everywhere on it," said his mum.

Joe is a real outdoor boy and does not like sitting at home – he likes to be active. He had been to play golf at the driving range at Gulpher Road and was on his way to see if anyone was fishing on the beach when the theft happened.

He suffers from a rare eye condition called Irlen syndrome which has caused his learning difficulties over many years, but was only discovered recently.

The condition affects the way his eyes and brain react to light and means he does not see words on a page the same as other people.

Anyone who sees the cycle or has any information on the theft is asked to contact Felixstowe police on 01473 613500.

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