Plymouth teen gets her ‘voice’ back after tech theft

    It's after a nationwide appeal with help from stars including Dawn French

    A 16-year-old Plymouth teen with cerebral palsy has her ‘voice’ back after the return of a stolen voice machine was returned thanks to vigilant staff at Plymouth Cash Converters.

    The family of Miya Thirlby never dreamed the specialist voice-generating laptop worth £6000 would ever be returned when it was stolen from their car four months ago.

    The theft received nationwide attention after dad Paul wrote about it on Twitter. The original tweet was shared more than 65,000 times and celebrities including Paul Gascoigne, Dawn French, Alan Shearer and Andy Murray subsequently joined a fundraising campaign set up by member of the public Jamie Twite to raise money for a replacement device.

    The stolen Accent 1400 device, which Miya relied on to communicate with friends and family, was discovered at Plymouth Cash Converters on Saturday 5 May, by store supervisor Shane Lowe.

    Following a series of swift and strict security checks the store alerted local police and arrests followed.

    The laptop was returned to Miya’s family at the weekend much to the delight of Miya who had missed the familiar technology of the machine that had been personally adapted for her needs. 

    Miya’s father, Paul said: “We are hugely grateful to Cash Converters for alerting the police and for recognising that the laptop was an invaluable, specialist voice converter device. This particular model is the one Miya finds easiest to use so we are really very relieved. Miya’s mum is about to give birth any day so we have two very special deliveries for the family this week.

    He added: “We would like to thank Plymouth police for the prompt arrests too and a very special thanks to everyone, famous and not famous, who donated to the replacement fund which was so kindly set up.”

    The replacement voice machine will be returned and the funds will go to updating Miya’s machine and a donation will be made to the Little Harbour Children’s Hospice in Saint Austell where Miya has received specialist care.

    Mike Stevenson, the Operations Director at Plymouth Cash Converters, commented: “Shane had an eagle eye and was quick-thinking. All our team is highly trained to spot anything that might be amiss when an item comes in. We have a great relationship with Devon and Cornwall Constabulary and work with them closely in cases like this.

    “We never expected someone to have the audacity to bring the voice recorder into our store.”

    A spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall Police issued a statement praising Cash Converters staff for their vigilance and added: .

    “Two men, aged 37 and 41, from Plymouth were arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods and have been released under investigation pending further enquiries. It follows the theft of specialist computer equipment stolen from a car in Pennycross on 8 January 2018 which has now been identified by the family and they have been reunited with the item.”

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