A DAD has been left gutted after sick thieves stole a van containing 'vital' wheelchairs which his daughter uses to get around.

Ian Ford was left dismayed when he found out his blue Transit passenger van had been stolen by thieves in Heys Lane, Blackburn, at about 9.30am today.

The van contained an electric and manual wheelchair which his 12-year-old daughter Erin Ford uses, as she can't walk due to having cerebral palsy.

Mr Ford said the theft has left his daughter 'immobile', just over a week before she is due to go back to school at Holy Cross High School in Chorley.

The lifelong Blackburn Rovers fan who has been going with his daughter to games for years, said she has been unable to go to the match against Cardiff City today because she has no way of moving.

Mr Ford, who lives on Heys Lane, said: "We'd just come back from a caravan holiday in Wales the previous night and the van was there then.

"But at 9.30am today, the van which is a nine-seater family van, was gone and it contains an electric wheelchair which Erin uses to go to school and a manual one for days out.

"Erin has quadriplegic cerebral palsy which affects the movement in all her four limbs and means she doesn't walk, so the wheelchairs are vital.

"So with just over a week until school, she has been left immobile.

"She also goes to Blackburn Rovers games and has done since she was three and is well-known and has been a mascot before, but has been unable to go today because of what's happened."

Mr Ford said he has reported the matter to the police and branded the thieves as 'callous'.

He said: "The police said they will check CCTV in the area and I've gone to the Brown Cow pub and they said they had CCTV and a customer there has some too.

"I've also put out an appeal on Twitter and Facebook, so I'm hoping to find the van, the wheelchairs and the people that did this.

"The people who have done this are really callous and low to do such a thing..

"On Heys Lane and Tiverton Drive, there are vehicles parked all over the place.

"There haven't been problems with vehicles being stolen but things have been taken from inside vehicles.

"I'd like to think that anyone who had a conscience wouldn't steal from a van containing wheelchairs for people who need them,"he added.

Erin's mum Helen Ford, who lives in Chorley, appealed for anyone who could help to come forward.

She said: "It's really upsetting what's happened as it's essential for her high school.

"We'll be getting in contact with Lancashire Wheelchair Services who can hopefully sort another wheelchair so she'll be going back to school.

"I would appeal to anyone who have seen anything and who can help us find the van and wheelchairs to come forward."