Lead thieves target poorly teen's Stoke home
THIEVES have targeted the home of a disabled teenager for the second time in just over a year.
The criminals stole lead from the roof of Tracey and Paul Cotton's home, where they care for 13-year-old daughter, Georgia, who suffers from a type of debilitating epilepsy.
It is the second time since December 2011 that the house, in Selwyn Street, Stoke, has been targeted.
And the damage has left Georgia's bedroom vulnerable to damp which potentially puts her health at risk.
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Paul, aged 44, said: "I am disgusted that somebody could do this again, just after 12 moths after it first happened.
"They must know that the damage it causes and the cost to replace and repair it. I am fuming and very upset."
The family had gates installed in an alleyway at the back of their house after the first lead theft.
Now police have launched an appeal for information after the thieves struck again two weeks ago.
Officers believe the crooks stole the lead at around 1am on Sunday, January 13. A builder has had to be called in on both occasions to repair the damage.
Tracy, also aged 44, also condemned the thieves.
She said: "All the bad weather we have had, all this rain and snow will get down inside the wall which will now create damp in Georgia's bedroom.
"I'm really upset that they did it before and they have done it again this year.
"It has upset me more that it could affect my little girl who is poorly.
"I hope the police catch whoever it is."
The thieves would have had to climb onto the next door neighbour's roof to gain access to the Cotton's roof.
Tracy didn't realise until two days afterwards, when a neighbour noticed the missing roofing.
She says she is worried that following the recent snowstorms, irreversible damage may have been caused to the building.
She said: "Georgia has breathing difficulties. She is on a ventilator at night because she stops breathing. I am worried because the damp could make her worse."
The Cotton's are now stepping up security and putting cameras up around the property, after the fencing built after the first incident failed to stop the thieves.
A spokesman from Staffordshire Police said: "The extension is used by a member of the family who is ill and uses specialist equipment, and the room needs to maintain a stable atmosphere.
"When the thefts have occurred this has caused further difficulties for the family."
An investigation is underway and anyone with information is asked to contact PC James McMillan at Staffordshire Police on 101.