The Independent London Newspaper
23rd April 2019

Distraught teenager’s plea for return of stolen artwork

    Sabrina (middle) with her mother Lucia and sister Melissa

    THE haul may have left the thief who stole the rucksack feeling that they might as well have not bothered, but for a distraught teenager this colourful bag and the collection of personal sketches inside meant everything.
    Swiped from the crowds on the 29 bus, the bag belonged to 14-year-old Sabrina Gardiner, who is autistic, and contained six months worth of her carefully drawn work.
    She has had nightmares ever since she lost her catalogue of cartoons and drawings.
    Last week, in a desperate attempt to trace the bag and the illustrations, her mother took out a newspaper ad in the hope that someone might be able to help.
    Lucia Gardiner, a trainee firefighter and school worker, said: “Those drawings are her life. These characters, all these drawings, it’s her world.
    “Any little thing can trigger it off, and her memories of her bag come back to her. We have another row and another settling down – it can last more than three hours.”
    The bag went missing on June 27 from the 29 bus, the bendy bus route which passes through Tottenham Court Road, Camden Town and Holloway. Somewhere between Trafalgar Square and Sabrina’s home in Green Lanes, it vanished.
    When Sabrina gets upset, she repeats her desperation to have the cartoon’s back, saying a few sentences over and over: “I want them, when are they coming back, why did you let them go?”
    Sabrina’s autism does not only affect her every now and then, her mother says. It is a constant barrier to her ability to interact on a social level. Since the theft, Sabrina’s mother says that her daughter has developed paranoia.
    The budding author and cartoonist had created a series of cartoons called The American Boys, which were a follow-up to her work from the year before, named The British Boys annual.
    The characters she has created represent hundreds of hours of painstaking work. She has named each character after a city or a state, and come up with a persona and stories for them.
    While in life she struggles to articulate herself, the vocabulary used in her tales are extensive.
    “They meant everything and yet I have to let them go,” said Sabrina.

    • Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the bag can contact the New Journal anonymously on 020 7424 3261 or email cchambers@camdennewjournal.com
    CHARLOTTE CHAMBERS

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