A KEEN cyclist who is battling severe arthritis says she's devastated after burglars ransacked her home over the Christmas weekend and stole her special electric bike.

Sophia Callaghan, who saved up to buy the electric assisted bicycle six months ago, told the Echo: "I love to cycle but because of my severe arthritis I was unable to ride until a saved up for this bike. I have no cartilage left in my knees and without the assistance I simply would be in too much pain.

"Since getting this bike it has felt like I've got my independence back, I cannot believe it has been stolen, I am devastated."

Sophia, who is in her early 50s, discovered the break-in after returning to her Parkstone home early on Saturday.

"I was looking forward to getting on my bike and riding all weekend," she said. "They'd (burglars) strewn household products all over the hallway and kitchen.

"There was washing powder and stain remover all over the place, I've been struggling to get it all out.

"My back door is a toughened security door and they've smashed that in. There was glass everywhere, I've spent Christmas trying to clean it all up."

The electric bike was stolen from the hallway, and another mountain bike was taken as well.

The theft took place at her home in Ashley Cross between 6pm on Friday, December 22, and 6.30am on Saturday, December 23.

Sophia said: "I am quite young to have severe arthritis, and the bike had given me a new lease of life - and they've come in and wrecked my Christmas and taken the bike.

"I have no cartilage left in my knees. It is just bone on bone, so buying that electric bike gave me a new lease of life. It cost a lot of money but is worth every penny. When you pedal it gives you a boost. So you are still working out, which is important for arthritis - you need to be making movement - but because it is assisted it means I can get up hills without the pain."

The electric bike is a Haibike xduro, with small frame. It is black, white and yellow.

The other bike stolen was a bright green Cannondale, also with a small frame.

Contact Dorset Police on 101 if you have any information.