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Cruel crooks in phone theft

PUBLISHED: 14:00 20 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:41 03 March 2010

HARD-hearted thieves have robbed an Ipswich schoolgirl of a vital mobile phone link between her and her disabled mother.

After stealing the £150 state-of-the-art phone, the callous criminals even used a digital reproduction of the 14-year-old owner's voice to taunt her frantic mother trying to trace it.

HARD-hearted thieves have robbed an Ipswich schoolgirl of a vital mobile phone link between her and her disabled mother.

After stealing the £150 state-of-the-art phone, the callous criminals even used a digital reproduction of the 14-year-old owner's voice to taunt her frantic mother trying to trace it.

Jo Hedges, of Renfrew Road, told of her horror when she heard the distorted voice of her daughter Sharlie say on the answer message: "Hello?! Get over it – it's only a phone."

But Mrs Hedges, 31, who suffers from debilitating virus ME and back problems, did not see the funny side.

She said that Sharlie always used her phone to check to see how her she was coping.

"I couldn't believe it. I was gobsmacked," said Mrs Hedges after thieves struck on Thursday at the changing rooms of Northgate High School's sports centre, which is also open to the public.

"She used to call sometimes about three or four times a day – which is probably why she didn't hand the phone in for safekeeping with the school."

Two burglars rifled schoolchildren's belongings at Northgate High School between 11.50am and 12noon and made away with a haul, including Sharlie Hedges' mobile phone, stationery and a small quantity of cash.

The teenager has been left distraught by the theft of the Nokia 3330 phone which she said she needed to cope with emergencies concerning her mother.

"I'm really angry," seethed Sharlie, adding that four other friends had seen their mobiles disappear in the days just before and after Thursday's incident.

A police spokesman confirmed that the matter was under investigation after two men were seen driving away from the scene in a white car.

Northgate head Neil Watts described the theft as "galling", adding that CCTV was in operation at the Sidegate Lane premises. Staff and police were working closely together to find the culprits but they were certain that the thieves were not pupils at the school, he said.

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