A DISABLED man says he feels “completely lost” without his mobility scooter after it was “stolen in broad daylight”.

Robert Cockburn, 72, had to abandon his electric-powered red Pride Colt mobility scooter outside the Co-op in Port Seton after it ran out of battery.

He took a taxi to his Port Seton home and his six-year-old scooter – insured for £1,300 – was due to be collected by his insurers the following day.

But when they went to retrieve it from just outside the cash point at the Co-op on Links Road, it was gone.

He said: “I have now realised how low some thieves will go in stealing the mobility scooter from a disabled person in broad daylight.

“It is my only real form of transport. I suffer from health problems which means I need it to get around.

“I’m completely lost without my scooter – it gave me freedom to get around, which I now don’t have.

“I’ve got an electric chair which can just about get me on buses, but I’m still very limited. I just can’t believe someone would do this.”

Former bus inspector Mr Cockburn and his scooter are a well-known sight in his home village.

He made national newspaper headlines two years ago about the abuse he received from car drivers for travelling at 8mph on the 60mph coast road to Longniddry, where he would regularly go to enjoy beach picnics.

“If anyone knows anything [about the scooter theft], I’d urge them to call the police,” he pleaded.

The incident was reported to police but their inquiries have drawn a blank. And CCTV has not been able to help.

Mr Cockburn added: “All the police have said is that nothing has shown up on the CCTV. Well, maybe we need more CCTV in Port Seton. Nothing else has been done.

“The thieves must have used a van because the scooter is quite big and heavy, and it was out of battery.”

A replacement scooter has been ordered but he will have to wait several weeks before it is delivered.

The Co-op has no knowledge of the incident and its CCTV has not been able to help.

East Lothian Council was also unable to shed any light on the matter.

A spokesperson said: “The council does not have the powers to remove vehicles. If the mobility scooter had been reported as ‘abandoned’ then through environmental health it might be taken away but this would only be after checks had been carried out to check ownership and the council would not remove if on private land. This would be the responsibility of the landowner.”

The community has reacted with shock and sadness to the apparent theft.

Greg Mahony, a local businessman, said: “Whenever I’ve seen him about, he’s always seemed such a sweet, lovely man, always friendly.

“It’s disgusting that someone could steal from an elderly and vulnerable person who relies on that scooter. Whoever it is has taken his freedom away.”

Bryan Hickman, chairman of Cockenzie and Port Seton Community Council, added: “It’s a real shame and tragedy that this could have happened.

“It underlines something that the community council have been looking into, which is the need for more CCTV in the area.”

Local resident Lynn Marshall, a deputy lord lieutenant for East Lothian, added: “This is really bad and another example of the rise in crime in the village recently, with thefts and break-ins.”

While ward councillor Fiona O’Donnell, another local resident, added: “This is such a cruel crime. Anyone living in the village knows how important this mobility aid is to the victim.”

Margaret Hamilton, former chair of the community council and also from Port Seton, said she empathised after a misunderstanding last year led to her being without her scooter for three days.

She said: “Mine had also ran out of battery, and I had to leave it at the top of my road. A neighbour saw it and thought it had been abandoned by thieves so called the police. It ended up being taken by the police to a car impound place in Macmerry.

"After I phoned the police and told them, they brought it back to me free of charge, but that feeling when it first went missing was horrendous. You just feel devastated, and you can’t go anywhere. To think someone could do that to you deliberately is awful.”

The Courier contacted TJ Wallace Repair and Recovery, where Margaret’s scooter was taken, and they confirmed they were not holding a mobility scooter matching the description of Mr Cockburn’s. 

A spokesperson for Police Scotland said: “Enquiries have concluded; however, anyone who may have information about this is urged to contact Police Scotland on 101, quoting incident 1376 of April 13.”