HEARTLESS thieves stole a bike worth £5,500 used by a GP for making house calls to sick and vulnerable patients.

Dr Simon Ardern saved up for years to buy the e-bike, which he also used to take breaks from the stress of the Covid-19 pandemic - and the sudden death of his father.

The distinctive blue, lime green and black bicycle was stolen from the GP’s locked shed in Alexandria at the weekend. But the thief took it without the front wheel - and left a scooter behind.

Dr Ardern, 43, has been using the bike at least once a week for getting to more rural patients from his Arrochar surgery, as well as working in the Vale of Leven Hospital and the coronavirus assessment centre in Helensburgh.

His dad, Paul, died aged 72 earlier this year after being left a quadriplegic almost five years ago. The bike let Dr Ardern take escapes when he was struggling with the loss.

Dr Ardern said the loss of the bike now was devastating.

He told the Reporter: “It cleared my mind of any stress - when I was out on the bike, you don’t worry about what’s going on at home and it was my way of dealing with stress.

“Because of the lockdown, I hadn’t been able to visit my dad. I wasn’t able to say goodbye. Now my stress-relieving has gone as well.”

Dr Ardern originally trained and worked as a mechanical engineer before quitting and retraining in medicine and finally starting work as a GP three years ago.

While living in Glasgow in those years, he had a car, motorbike and two mountain bikes stolen. Now, he feels the “dread” back.

The dad-of-two said: “I had not had anything stolen for a long time. Now there’s the constant anxiety that something is missing.”

Dr Ardern said that his insurance would not cover the bike because the lock on the shed was not considered sufficient. He still had six months of payments left on the Specialized Kenevo bike, bought in February 2019.

He is offering a £500 reward for the return of the bike, and Dumbarton CID are appealing for witnesses.

The bike was taken sometime between 3.30am and 7.30am on July 12 from Ferryfield Gardens, Alexandria.

Detective Sergeant Fyfe said: “We have been carrying out enquiries, including going door to door and checking for CCTV in the area. The front wheel of the bike had been removed by the owner and the thief has stolen the frame with the rear wheel attached.

“The bike is distinctive and I am hoping that someone saw the thief pushing or carrying the bike.

“I am seeking the assistance of the local community to get in touch with me if they have seen this bike or if they have any information regarding its whereabouts.

“If anyone has dashcam footage or private CCTV from the early hours of Sunday morning, I would also ask that they review the footage and pass anything of note on to us.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police by calling 101, quoting incident 1357 of July 12. Information can also be passed anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.