Hemel Hempstead Lions leap to action to give vulnerable theft victim Roxanne her lifeline back

The vulnerable victim of a targeted theft has had her ‘lifeline’ mobile phone replaced by a Hemel Hempstead charity who were moved by her plight.

Roxanne Simmons, 29, of Chaulden, has learning difficulties and relied heavily on her iPhone 4s to contact family when out and about, before it was cruelly snatched while she paid for her meal in a town centre cafe last month.

Hemel Hempstead Lions Club president Terry Allen with theft victim Roxanne Simmons and Lions member and former president Barbara Daniels.

Hemel Hempstead Lions Club president Terry Allen with theft victim Roxanne Simmons and Lions member and former president Barbara Daniels.

The Sunnyside Rural Trust worker – who suffers from severe epilepsy – had been with friends who also have learning difficulties when her newly upgraded phone was taken.

The group are thought to have been preyed on deliberately by the culprits.

An appeal for information on the crime was published in the Gazette’s sister paper The Herald Express, prompting charity club the Hemel Hempstead Lions to offer their help.

Club president Terry Allen said: “I saw the story and thought it was the sort of thing we would want to help with – I even got phone calls from two other Lions the same day who said we should look at getting Roxanne a new phone.

“We are an international charity, but we always try to spend a percentage of our money in the local community. What happened to Roxanne was a disgrace, I thought it was a real dirty trick.”

The club bought Roxanne a replacement iPhone 4s from money raised through their bookshop – which is on the brink of reaching £100,000 in takings at its Marlowes Shopping Centre base.

Roxanne, who also volunteers at Queensway House care home, says she will now wear her phone on a special cord around her neck, to prevent it being stolen or lost.

She is also looking forward to caring for virtual pets on the new device, as well as listening to music. Her favourite track is her namesake – the Police hit Roxanne.

Her mother Kathy, 56, said the club’s help means a huge amount to her and her daughter. She said: “I was amazed when Terry phoned me up to say they would like to offer Roxanne a new phone.

“She was so upset about what happened – she was worried about her digital pets and she will be in her element now.

“I was so happy, and it just shows that even when something bad happens, there are still people who want to do something nice in return. Thank you so much to the Lions for their help.”

Busy Roxanne, who finds time to practice judo among her other commitments, said: “I would just like to say a big thank you to the Lions for helping me and buying me a new phone. I am really happy to have a phone that I love, so thank you.”

PC Matthew Cann, investigating the theft, would like to speak to a group of teenage boys in the Hemel Cafe on Bridge Street when Roxanne’s phone went missing on Sunday, November 17. Call 101 with information.