Widower Kath Marlow's Toyota Aygo broke down while driving from her home in Skipton to visit her daughter and support bubble Judith in Barnoldswick on Tuesday.
Terrified, the 81-year-old called her daughter and son-in-law who came to her aid and called for breakdown recovery.
However, when the mechanic arrived, the family were told Mrs Marlow's petrol tank had been completely empty, and when it was towed to a nearby petrol station, they noticed the fuel was leaking underneath meaning it had been tampered with.
"Whoever has done it has drilled two holes in the tank to let out both the fuel and air," said Mrs Marlow's daughter Katie, Hibbs.
Mrs Marlow was left shaken after finding out her car had been deliberately targeted, and is now so frightened of the incident re-occurring that her car is being stored elsewhere, leaving her trapped at home and without access to her support bubble.
"It could have had much more serious consequences," added Ms Hibbs, of Steeton.
"This could have caused a serious crash if she had broken down on a busier road.
"People need to keep an open mind that this is something which could happen to them – the thieves clearly knew exactly what they were doing and this will not have been the first time they did.
"Cars can be people's lifelines at the moment, especially in places like Skipton. What if this had happened to an NHS worker or someone needing to travel for an emergency?"
"My mum has been completely floored by what happened and if she has an emergency now, she is stuck."
North Yorkshire Police has confirmed a report was made on Tuesday, January 26 and anyone with information on the incident can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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