Camper van theft leaves Wakefield cancer patient's family devastated

A family from Lupset have been left devastated as their camper van - packed up and ready for their bank holiday weekend trip - was stolen.

By Julie Marshall
Monday, 2nd May 2022, 11:52 am
Updated Monday, 2nd May 2022, 11:55 am

A family from Lupset have been left devastated as their camper van, packed up and ready for their trip this weekend, was stolen.

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Thieves took the long-wheelbase Ford Transit van from the road outside their house on Neville Road in the early hours of Wednesday.

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Amanda Blackburn and Sam Grint with children Emily Rose, Skyler Grace and Alicia Mai.

Sam Grint, 33, said: “I bought the van last February so I could take my family on holiday.

“Week in week out for more than a year I have put every spare penny I have in this van, every spare minute I have has been spent working on it – including my lunch hours at work.

“I am being treated for cancer and working on the van for my family was a coping mechanism; I’ve been in bits ever since it happened.

“It wasn’t even finished, I was waiting to save up a bit more money to finish off the cupboard doors.”

The camper van that was stolen last week.

Sam said the van had already been converted into a rudimentary camper when he bought it, but it only slept one.

He set about ripping everything out to make it a five-berth so his partner Amanda Blackburn and their three young children – Emily Rose, eight, Skyler Grace, four, and Alicia Mai, three – could spend precious time together as a family.

Sam, who works six days a week as a manager for EFR Skips in Wakefield, said: “My eldest daughter helped me with the work, she is really upset.

“It’s been part of our life and now it’s gone. It wasn’t just a van, it was our cheap getaway for family adventures on the weekends.”

He added: “The plan was to drive to Spain next summer for two weeks. We are so frustrated because there’s no way we can replace it now.”

Sam is angry at the way West Yorkshire Police have treated the theft, which was witnessed by a neighbour who saw two men near the van and a third in the driver's seat.

He said: "The police have done nothing at all. Someone rang me 20 hours later to say they were going to drop the case due their being no CCTV and no leads.

"But Amanda has been going around the streets near our house gathering CCTV footage. It shows two people walking away from my van and what van they got into.

"There is also CCTV of where my van drove to. We are doing the detective work and all they want to do is give me a crime number and for me to claim on my insurance.

"My insurance will pay out the bare minimum of around £3,000 but I have probably spent £10,000 on this van.

"I don't have that sort of money, I built it using what I've been able to spare each week."

West Yorkshire Police were contacted for a comment, with a spokesperson saying the force would respond when the officer dealing with the incident was back on duty.

In the meantime, Sam has set up a Go Fund Me account to help give his children a holiday. He said: "I don't want to be a charity but at the end of the day they have stolen my kids' holidays and we are all devastated.

"My youngest keeps asking me where our camper van is, my oldest understands a bit, but she keeps saying they've stolen our sleeping bags too, daddy."

Visit the Go Fund Me appeal page to make a donation.

This story was first published by the Wakefield Express.