Officers in Croydon surprised an elderly couple on Christmas Day with a brand new car, after theirs was stolen earlier this year.
Mr and Mrs Gibbs were bowled over when they received a knock on the door and discovered a Vauxhall Corsa sitting on their driveway and were presented with a cheque for £2,300.
The special gifts were the result of generous donations from the officers and public after the couple had their beloved Austin Metro stolen in October.
Between 16.00hrs on Friday 6 October and 10.20hrs on Sunday 8 October, the vehicle was stolen from the garage of their Coulsdon home.
Mr and Mrs Gibbs – both in their 70s and married for nearly 60 years – were left devastated by the loss as they relied on the vehicle to get them to and from frequent hospital appointments.
An investigation was launched by officers from Croydon CID. On 17 October officers received a call to reports of an abandoned vehicle in the rear car park of a public house in Purley.
Inquiries established it to be the couple’s car, but sadly it was badly damaged and they were unable to raise enough funds to buy a new one.
So touched were local officers by Mr and Mrs Gibbs’ predicament, that they started a collection to raise funds for a replacement. After digging deep themselves, they opened the fund up to the public.
Officers identified a local car dealership, “Onodi” in West Wickham, who generously offered to replace the vehicle free of charge.
DC Helen Cooper, Croydon CID, said: “Our hearts went out to Mr and Mrs Gibbs when we saw how upset they were to lose their car. It was a real lifeline to them. We just had to do something to help them. As well as donations from officers, the local community and general public have all rallied together to raise money for the couple which will cover costs for insurance and MOT.”
Mr and Mrs Gibbs were thrilled and overwhelmed by the effort and support police in Croydon have given them.
Linda Gibbs said: “You’ve given us our life and our freedom back. I am overwhelmed by the support and generosity you have given us. When Helen called to ask if we’d be in on Christmas morning, I thought you were going to give us a little hamper. I had no idea it would be a car. Now I need to think about what I’ll call her. This is an amazing car, it has electric windows, two wing mirrors and no choke. She is amazing. Thank you so so much. Make sure you make a note of our registration number so you can give us a wave when you’re out on patrol.“
Michael Gibbs said: “Once you leave, I think we will have a good cry, I’m just so overwhelmed, I don’t know what to say. I’ve heard of wonderful things happening to people and we try and do our bit for charity, but I never thought this would happen for us.“
+ Forensic work on the recovered vehicle led officers to identify 19-year-old Fabion Wilfred (29.3.98), of Goodenough Way, Coulsdon, Surrey. On 2 December he pleaded guilty at south London Magistrates Court to handling stolen goods. He will be sentenced at Croydon Crown Court on 21 January 2018.