CALLOUS thieves left an arthritic woman without the use of her mobility scooter after damaging it and stealing its batteries.

Julie Dibben, from Poole, travels up to four miles a day on her scooter and uses it to walk her two dogs. She is unable to walk far without it due to suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia – painful conditions, with the latter causing inflamed and stiff joints.

The 50-year-old discovered her scooter, which she leaves in her garage to charge, had been damaged when she went to use it on Tuesday. When a repairman visited the next day, it was discovered the scooter’s two batteries had been stolen as well.

Julie said: “I’ve had the scooter for over four years as I find it difficult to walk too far. Nothing like this has happened before. It’s upsetting and has inconvenienced me. I need the scooter as it gets me out. I go out three times a day with my dogs. One of them has arthritis too so we’re in the same boat.”

Julie said it would cost £350 to repair the scooter and replace the batteries. After being told about the theft, her friend Nancy Cochrane took to social media and set up a fundraising page to raise the money.

Julie said she had to resort to taking the bus to get around on the day she was unable to use her scooter.

“It was painful for me to do. Because of my arthritis, it’s very painful for me to get around. It started nine years ago and has gradually got worse. My hand is slowly turning at the wrist and my knees swell up sometimes.

“I had to give up work as a result. I worked in a Safeway store and the Parrs Rock factory before it shut down, and then helped out in the family business before I was no longer able to work.”

She added: “I live alone, but my brother and sister help me out.”

A spokesperson for Dorset Police said they received a report of a theft at 12.58pm on Wednesday, December 28.

“A battery was stolen from a mobility scooter sometime between 5pm and 8pm on Tuesday, December 27, from an unsecure shed in Herbert Avenue in Poole. Damage was also caused to the scooter during the incident. No arrests have been made.”