Tears of joy as Charlie is back on road after theft in Fleetwood

Jim and Tracy Southern with Natasha and little Charlie
Jim and Tracy Southern with Natasha and little Charlie
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A three-year-old boy was left heartbroken after his beloved bike was stolen by cruel thieves during a family shopping trip.

Charlie Southern’s parents Jim and Tracy had taken the family to Fleetwood’s Affinity retail park and had decided to leave the pedal-less ‘walker’ bike close to the centre’s security hut.

Steve and Jackie Armitage

Steve and Jackie Armitage

But they didn’t lock the bike up, thinking it would be safe there, and when they returned it had gone.

However, their heartache has turned to joy after an acquaintance of the family heard about the theft and decided to help.

Thornton woman Jackie Armitage, 60, who was receiving treatment for cancer in a hospital bed in Manchester, decided to act after her husband Steve read about the theft on Facebook and mentioned it to her. Former Fleetwood man Jim, 36, of Bedford Avenue, Cleveleys, said: “My faith in human nature was shattered and restored in the space of 48 hours.

“It was such a kind gesture and Charlie was thrilled.

“He is old enough to know what happened and he was really upset when the bike was stolen.

“It’s really wonderful to get a replacement.

“We would have bought him another one but the point is someone else was kind enough to do it.”

The incident happened when the family visited the Affinity centre on Saturday, to take Charlie and sister Natasha to a petting zoo that was there for the day.

Jim, who works as a catering manager at Manor Beach Primary School in Cleveleys, said: “We thought it was a good idea to park the bike there.

“When we got back and found it gone we were stunned and called into the security hut. It turned out they had CCTV images which showed a family carrying the bike off and putting it in the back of their car.”

The police were contacted and Jim posted a sad message on two Facebook sites, Thornton Chat and Cleveleys Crimewatch Chat.

It was then that Steve spotted the message on Facebook and and mentioned it to Jackie. When Jackie was back home she bought the bike.

Jim added: “It wasn’t a particularly expensive bike, but it was the principle of the thing.

“We’re just glad to get to get the bike and can’t thank Jackie enough for putting a smile back on Charlie’s face.”