Anger at cruel theft of disabled tot's lifeline

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Herman and Louise Frantzich with their two-year-old daughter Audrey Herman and Louise Frantzich with their two-year-old daughter Audrey

by Julie Tickner Bradford Chief Reporter A disabled tot who has to be tube-fed and constantly hooked up to an oxygen supply has been left house-bound after cruel thieves stole her parents’ car which had vital specialist equipment in it.

Two-year-old Audrey Frantzich suffers from a rare genetic condition which means she cannot sit up, walk or talk as her development is delayed. She is fed milk through a tube in her stomach, has reflux, spinal problems, hearing aids in each ear and a cleft palate.

On Saturday morning, parents Louise and Herman, 24, discovered that their Rover had been stolen. It had hundreds of pounds of equipment in it, including a special car seat, a buggy, a chair to help Audrey sit-up and an oxygen canister, which she has to be attached to when she leaves the house. A satellite navigation system and a camera full of irreplaceable pictures charting the child’s life, are also missing.

“We’ve got some of the pictures, but there are ones on there from a family holiday in the summer which we cannot get back,” Mrs Frantzich said.

Thieves broke into the bungalow’s garage in Midland Road, Baildon, and took the keys to the Rover Streetwise overnight.

Mum Louise Frantzich, 28, said: “You just feel really shocked and upset that people would do that, especially because it’s Christmas time.

“When they saw the oxygen and the disabled badge in the car, they would have had an idea.

“We wanted to take her out, but we’ve been stuck in because we’ve not got a suitable buggy to put her in.”

Great-grandmother Barbara Seed, 78, added: “I’m so blazing with it. How can people be so cruel? Audrey’s such a happy and lovely little soul, I call her my little friend, and that’s what gets me so angry.”

Police recovered the car the same day it was stolen and arrested three people, but the items were not in it or found during a search of the suspects’ homes.

The car and equipment is needed by Friday so Audrey can be taken to a hospital appointment at Bradford Royal Infirmary.

It is thought only about ten children in the UK have Trisomy 9 Mosaic (T9M), which is caused by having a partial third copy of a chromosome.

“When she was born, doctors said she wouldn’t see her first birthday and it was horrendous. She has a lot of problems, but she’s always quite jolly,” Mrs Frantzich said.

She is a full-time carer for her daughter and her American-born husband cannot work as he is waiting for his national insurance number, after a lengthy wait to obtain a visa.

The family’s situation, and a £500 insurance excess, means that they will struggle to replace the items stolen to get Audrey to hospital at the end of the week. Mrs Frantzich is also concerned that she will struggle to park at the hospital as it is thought the thieves even took her disabled parking badge from the car.

“I just feel sad that someone would do that to us. We thought we were living in a fairly safe area,” Mrs Frantzich said.

“It’s extra stress and inconvenience. You do come to rely on your car, especially when it’s needed for Audrey.”

A police spokesman said two women, aged 18 and 25, have been released without charge and a 24-year-old man has been released on bail.

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