Sunderland's Red Sky Foundation founder Sergio Petrucci appeals for return of his beloved Italian-themed Fiat 500 car
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Red Sky Foundation boss Sergio Petrucci uses the distinctive blue Fiat 500 – complete with a stripe in the colours of the Italian flag running from front to back – to deliver the defibrillators that the heart charity provides for locations across the region.
But he has been left relying on others for lifts since the car was stolen on Wednesday night.
"It went from one of the back streets on the Sheepfolds Industrial Estate during the Sheffield United game,” said Sergio, who is offering a reward of £200 for information leading to the recovery of the vehicle.
"We came back and it was gone. Apparently it was seen by the police cameras crossing Wearmouth Bridge at about ten past nine.
“I use it to deliver our defibrillators. Now I am having to rely on getting lifts from people.”
He as been overwhelmed by support since highlighting the theft on Facebook
“My little car has reached most of Sunderland,” said Sergio.
"Everywhere I go, people ask me if I’ve got it back yet.”
The theft has ruined what should have been a week of celebrations for Sergio after the charity’s annual Red Sky Ball raised almost £110,000.
I’m a Celebrity’s Queen of the Jungle Jill Scott and former Steps star Faye Tozer were on hand to welcome gusts to the evening at the Beacon of Light, while entertainment came from soprano Emily Haig, SK dance school and Voices of Virtue gospel choir.
‘The best one yet’
The theme of the evening was the plight of children who are living long-term with serious heart conditions and in need of organ donors.
"It was the best one yet,” said Sergio.
"It went really well – it was just incredible from start to finish.
"I want to say thank you to everybody who came along for their support. The money we have raised is going to stay right here in the North East and will be used to help people with heart conditions.”
Anyone who has any information on the whereabouts of Sergio’s car – registration NL18 WWM – can contact Northumbria Police on the non-emergency number 101, quoting crime reference number 032749F/23.