'Who's going to take responsibilty?' – Homeless Letchworth woman speaks out about how caravan theft has left her on the street

PUBLISHED: 08:26 02 February 2017

Ashley Banks and Stacey Edwards have been on the street since her caravan was stolen from a lay-by on the A505 near Baldock just before Christmas.

Ashley Banks and Stacey Edwards have been on the street since her caravan was stolen from a lay-by on the A505 near Baldock just before Christmas.

Danny Loo Photography 2017

A homeless woman from Letchworth, left on the street by the theft of her caravan days before Christmas, has told how the crime has undone years of work towards rebuilding her life.

The Weston Hills Tunnel, and the lay-by from where the caravan was stolen. Photo: C2r at the English WikipediaThe Weston Hills Tunnel, and the lay-by from where the caravan was stolen. Photo: C2r at the English Wikipedia

Stacey Edwards, 38, had the caravan stolen from a lay-by on the A505 near Baldock after bailiffs moved it off a private car park in Letchworth’s Marmet Avenue on December 19.

She and her partner Ashley Banks saved up £1,900 to buy the caravan during five years of homelessness – and Stacey says it was stolen after the bailiffs incorrectly told her to look for it on the A507.

She told the Comet: “They wouldn’t let me find the key for the lock, they wouldn’t let me go back in to get my things. They took it and told us it was going to be on the A507.

“It took us hours to walk, then my friend passed us and we searched the stretch of road for an hour.

Ashley Banks and Stacey Edwards have been on the street since her caravan was stolen from a lay-by on the A505 near Baldock just before Christmas.Ashley Banks and Stacey Edwards have been on the street since her caravan was stolen from a lay-by on the A505 near Baldock just before Christmas.

“We slept underneath a bridge that night, it was freezing. We had none of our clothes, no ID, nothing.

“Then police saw the caravan by the Weston Hills Tunnel on the A505 – so the bailiffs had given us the wrong location. The police took us there, but by then it’d been stolen.

“There’s nowhere for us to go, it’s just been a nightmare and we are literally on the street with just our clothes to stand in. People need to realise the impact this has had on us, it’s just been horrendous.

“Who’s going to take responsibility for it? It’s taken us five years to get our lives back together and now it’s all just been taken away.”

Almost everything Stacey and Ashley owned was in the caravan, including its log book – and the theft has also forced Stacey to have her beloved dog Bentley rehomed.

Stacey describes the caravan as 22ft long and white, with a grey stripe and the word ‘Piper’ on it, sheets on the windows and a cracked number plate.

Police say it was stolen at some point between 7pm on December 19 and 2am the next day. Investigating officer PC Chris Brown has called the theft ‘extremely selfish’.

Stacey lives with bipolar disorder and spinal problems and finds it difficult to walk. Ashley has severe ADHD and is set to have an operation this Sunday.

When the Comet contacted bailiffs Constant & Co, a staff member confirmed he had moved the caravan. The firm had yet to respond last night to a request for comment.

Stacey has accused North Herts District Council of not giving her and Ashley enough support regarding housing. A North Herts District Council spokeswoman said it could not comment on individual cases.

Councillor Bernard Lovewell, the district council’s executive member for housing, said: “The council provides a Homelessness and Housing Advice Service for the general public and it has specific legal requirements which must be met when considering if it is required to provide emergency accommodation for a household.

“Many households do not qualify for emergency accommodation – however, they are provided with information regarding other housing options

“These options include approaching local night shelters. These are usually designed for single people, but they provide a warm and safe environment for homeless people while other options, such as the private rented sector, are pursued.

“If any households would like to be considered for vacancies in night shelters, the council is happy to work with them on a referral to the relevant service.”

Anyone with information about the caravan theft should contact PC Chris Brown on 101, quoting crime reference G4/16/1086.

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