A DEVASTATED carer had his prized £1,700 bike stolen as he looked after vulnerable people.

Justin James, a carer at Langley Lodge Care Home in Imperial Avenue, Westcliff, had his rare Nukeproof Scout bike stolen overnight on Tuesday.

The 46-year-old had locked up the bike with a chain at the back of the site, which did not have public access.

The thief hacked off the padlock and took the bike away.

The bike is Mr James’ transport to and from his job and home in Eastwood, and he had been paying off the cost in instalments.

However, he is now forced to get a taxi each night costing £20, which is eating into his earnings.

His partner Clare James, 45, works in the day and has to look after her children.

She slammed the “brazen thief” and believes her partner’s bike will have been specifically targeted.

She said: “We’re a family of key workers who just haven’t stopped, it’s just awful.

“He said he would give up smoking and he would by the bike and whatever he used to pay for the cigarettes he would use to buy the bike. He still had about £600 to pay.

“This bike you wouldn’t even buy for parts as it’s so rare, you can’t buy it anymore. It was locked up and everything. They probably followed him.

“He’s having to get a taxi which costs £20 a night, and he works three to four nights in a row.

Because the bike was stolen from a place of work, the couple cannot claim the cost back from the insurance.

The couple were due to be married in June but the ceremony was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The family have since launched a fundraising page to get Mr James around £1,000 to buy a worthy replacement to the bike.

Ms James added: “The fact that someone has gone into a care home, targeted a carer during this time just makes it worse.

“We were due to get married and be on our honeymoon by now, but it all got delayed because of Covid.

“It’s just gone from bad to worse.”

Donate at www.gofundme.com/f/Help-fund-new-bike-for-care-assistant