A THIEF targeted a computer class for blind people and stole an iPad off a student’s lap.
The student thought his tutor or another student was taking the device when the thief lifted it without saying a word.
The theft was only discovered when the IT instructor returned from making a phone call to find a power cable that had been plugged into the tablet dangling by the victim’s legs and the £500 device gone.
The thief also snatched a second iPads and an iPod after sneaking into the classroom off the main reading hall in the Central Library on George IV Bridge.
The weekly computer classes for blind and partially-sighted people have had to beaxed until replacement equipment can be found. The thefts are said to have shattered “the faith in humanity” of the people who take part.
“It beggars belief that a low-life who must have known that the chap was blind had the audacity to sit down beside him, unplug the iPad and walk off with it,” said one participant.
Students were beight taught how to use the gadgets and its Siri voice recognition software when the thefts took place last Wednesday afternoon.
There were no signs stating a class for blind and partially-sighted people was in session, but those attending said it must have been instantly obvious to the crook what was going on.
Library worker Jim Mackenzie, who was conducting the session with his iPad, had left the room to answer a phone call only to return and find his student left holding a power cable.
Douglas Tait, 66, from Murrayfield, who is registered blind and attends the classes with four other blind iPad users each Thursday, is “gobsmacked” somebody could be “so cruel”.
“It really is unbelievable that somebody could target a blind man in this way,” he said. “You couldn’t really pick an easier target, could you? It’s not as if the guy could jump up and give chase. I arrived for my lesson on Thursday to be told by Jim that the sessions would have to be cancelled until he receives a replacement. We all look forward to the sessions as it gets us out and about and we can have a bit of a banter about what we’ve picked up on the iPad.”
Mr Tait’s wife, Irene, 66, who bought him an iPad for Christmas, said: “I really don’t know what this world is coming to.
“All the people who so enjoyed Jim’s tuition are losing out, but more importantly, their faith in humanity has been shattered.”
Councillor Norma Austin Hart, the city’s vice convener for culture and sport, also slammed the heartless thief but reassured library users that “every effort” was being made to catch the crook.
It is understood security camera footage which covers part of the building is being examined.
“This was a despicable incident, made worse by the fact that someone intentionally stole a valuable resource from a person with severe visual impairments,” said Cllr Hart.
Mr Mackenzie could not be reached for comment.