A CHARITY campaigner who cycled from London to Paris for a cause close to her heart has been left devastated after thieves stole her bike.
Karen Dallas embarked on the five-day endurance feat to help raise £10,000 to buy equipment for Edinburgh Royal Infirmary’s vital research into blood cancer.
The mother-of-three completed the event in September to mark the tenth anniversary of her grandmother’s death from lymphoma, and has so far raised three-quarters of her target.
But the £750 Boardman bike she used for the challenge was stolen from her garage on Saturday night – along with three others.
Neighbours raised the alarm after spotting three brazen thieves taking the bikes along Silverknowes Bank after forcing entry into the garage.
One was seen cycling away and pushing the fourth bike as the gang made their escape.
Mrs Dallas said she was “gutted” that the callous criminals could end up profiting from a bike she had used for a charity event – and she fears they had been watching the family home.
The 42-year-old, who was away for the weekend when the thieves struck, said: “I think they have been watching me coming and going and training. I’m gutted and upset to find it is gone.
“Our neighbours next door heard the racket – they saw three people making off on four bikes. One was riding one and pushing another. For me, it’s an emotional thing – the [Boardman] bike means the most to me.”
To make matters worse, the break-in happened just two days after her grandmother Moira Hume’s anniversary.
The 81-year-old died just four weeks after being admitted to hospital and diagnosed.
Ever since, Mrs Dallas has been raising money for the Bloodwise charity, formerly known as Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.
This year she set out to raise £10,000 for the team at the ERI to purchase a pioneering piece of equipment which would help to research blood cancers.
So far her five-day 500km cycle from London to Paris has raised £7500 including Gift Aid and fundraising by friends and family, but she is still appealing for donations.
Mrs Dallas, who works as a pension consultant, said: “It was a humbling experience. I have been out trying to do something good. People can come and steal your stuff but it isn’t going to stop me.
“I would hate them to make money out of selling our stuff, when the reason I had that bike was to raise money for charity. My heart beats behind this charity and that’s the bit that really upsets me.”
Mrs Dallas has put pictures of the bikes, which have a combined value of £3000, on Facebook and the website stolen-bikes.co.uk to try to trace them.
A police spokesman confirmed that officers had received a report of a theft from a home in Silverknowes Bank at 7pm on Saturday.