CALLOUS thieves hunting down scrap metal have stolen a hoard of bikes including ones specially designed for disabled children.
John Gilbert discovered around 14 bicycles and parts were missing from his garden workshop, in Prince's Avenue, Greenford, at about 8.30pm on Friday, December 16.
Among the stolen pieces, worth more than £1,000, were two hand-operated bikes for disabled people who cannot pedal.
They were bought by Mr Gilbert's team at Ealing Bike Hub for a new project to give disabled residents a chance to enjoy cycling.
The 55-year-old said: "We were hoping to take the bikes round to schools and let them realise how to fix things up and show them different types of bikes.
"Two of the bikes were hand-cranked for people who couldn't pedal. We wanted to hire them out for disabled residents. It was a very new idea.
"It was a bad way to finish the year but hopefully something good will come of it."
Mr Gilbert said he saw a man walking down the alleyway beside his house when he realised he had been burgled.
"I immediately went into the back garden and saw the workshop door open and someone had been in there," he said.
"I didn't know the extent of what was taken until the next day. I found some alcohol bottles scattered around the garden."
There is no space to store the two-wheelers at the Greenford Park Community Hall where the club is based, so they are kept in Mr Gilbert's home workshop.
The thieves ransacked the shed taking all the bikes, spare parts and scrap metal paraphernalia including stainless steel cooking equipment. Some of the bikes were stored unlocked on the back lawn.
Mr Gilbert continued: "They're going around knocking on doors asking for any scrap metal but at the same time looking at the alleyways.
"My house backs onto Greenford Park Cemetery and the Barbican Road so they can climb in from there.
"Police said there was a suspicious white van trawling around the area."
Insurance will cover the losses but Mr Gilbert said he will face a large excess fee.
He has since installed a six-foot metal gate made from old bike wheels to deter potentional thieves.
The club works with the community and Ealing probation service to teach people how to fix bicycles to get people riding across west London.
For more information about the club visit www.ealingbikehub.co.uk.