“IT was a mean and selfish act.”

That is how a 97-year-old Hampshire man described the theft of his mobility scooter, which has left him housebound and has stripped him of his independence.

Retired headmaster Henry Hayes looks after his 92-year-old wife Elsie, who has Alzheimer’s disease, and used the scooter to visit the shops. Now the frail pensioner has to rely on his son-in-law, who lives nearby, to take him where he needs to go.

Mr Hayes kept the scooter in the garage beside his bungalow in Hythe, and used it several times a week.

“I’ve no idea why anyone would want to steal it,” he said.

“The battery charger wasn’t taken, so when the battery runs down it won’t go any more.”

Mr Hayes, who bought the vehicle about three years ago, added: “I used it to go to the shops and get the groceries as well as visiting the bank and Hythe’s weekly market.

“The nearest postbox is only 100 yards away but using the scooter to get there and back was easier than walking.

“Stealing it was very mean and selfish.”

His son-in-law, David Webb, said: “Henry is doing very well but his physical abilities are extremely limited.

“The scooter gave him a bit of independence, which he loved.

“Stealing it was a particularly spiteful thing to do.”

Mr Hayes was headmaster of a school in Surrey for 25 years before he and his wife moved to Hythe.

The couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in December.

The scooter, which has a basket on the back and a mirror on the handlebars, was stolen on February 12.

Call PC Jackie Conners at Hythe police station on 101.