Shoppers have been urged to stop vulnerable people becoming victims of crime.

The call comes after the ‘lifeline’ mobile phone of blind man David Quarmby, chairman of Kirklees Visual Impairment Network, was stolen while he was in Huddersfield town centre.

David, 65, was left without a device for over four weeks when the incident involving his smart phone occurred outside Home Bargains in New Street in the middle of the afternoon.

Not just used for social calls, he depends on it to carry out many of his daily tasks, including paying his bills, reading documents, organising KVIN business and finding his way around.

David, of Newsome, said: “People just don’t realise how important these devices are to those with sight loss or how much information I had stored on there.

“I use it constantly-as a map to help me get around, to read emails and books, deal with queries and help people through KVIN and find out information I can’t easily access like other people can.

“Basically, a mobile phone is my lifeline and it has taken such a long time to replace. It was really hard to continue as normal after it happened, it was a nightmare sometimes.”

He did not realise he had become a victim of crime until he got home and realised his bag was unzipped and phone had gone.

David, added: “I just felt someone brush past me but I didn’t realise what had happened. I managed to call my son to ask him to block my phone for me but it made me feel so helpless, it was a horrible feeling.”

David Quarmby of Kirklees Visual Impairment Network who had his phone stolen while in Huddersfield Town centre with his guide dog Mick.
 

David’s insurers have now replaced the phone but police are still trying to find the original.

Insp Jon Dunkerley. said: “Unfortunately, thieves do operate in the town centre and are more active at Christmas time.

“They take advantage of shoppers who may be distracted or moving through busy crowds, and they tend to target elderly and vulnerable people.

“We are actively preventing theft in the town centre by offering a range of crime prevention advice, including how to download tracking apps which help to trace your phone if it does go missing and free purse bells which make a sound when a purse or bag is disturbed, which people can collect from Huddersfield Police Station.

“At night, plain clothes officers are patrolling pubs and bars to prevent theft and we have been working with staff at charity shops to raise awareness.

“Families, carers and friends can help to raise awareness with loved ones who may be vulnerable and we ask everyone to be on the lookout for people who are giving vulnerable or elderly people unwanted attention and let us know.

“Huddersfield is a safe place to shop or enjoy a night out for the majority of people but we will deal robustly with anyone we catch committing crime in the town centre.”