herald

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Family's plea for thieves to return wheelchair car

Plea: Maureen Lee with niece Shauna Wallace
Plea: Maureen Lee with niece Shauna Wallace

A FAMILY have made a plea to the thieves who stole their wheelchair-accessible car to return it as the vehicle is used to transport the family's disabled 11-year-old relative.

The grey Fiat Doblo was stolen from the Ballyfermot area in the early hours of last Sunday as the owners were visiting family in the area.

Currently living in Athlone, the family described how the people carrier was specially adjusted to transport 11-year-old Shauna, who suffers from a rare condition known as Diploid Triploid Mosaicism.

Devastated

Speaking to the Herald, Maureen Lee said she has been left "devastated" since their vehicle was stolen by callous thieves and how the car is used "out of necessity rather than luxury".

"I've been upset all week, we need that car to take Shauna places at the weekend. We also need it to transport my elderly mother, who lives in a nursing home. It's not that we keep it for our enjoyment, we keep it because it is an absolute necessity," she said.

The mum-of-three feels that whoever stole the vehicle would have been well aware that it was used to transport a wheelchair user, with the people-carrier even having a picture with Shauna's ID card sitting on the dashboard.

"How could somebody take the car while seeing the picture of this lovely, sweet girl, and taking away her only means of getting around. I just don't understand it," the carer explained.

Despite the theft being circulated on social media, the car has failed to turn up, leaving Maureen with little hope.

"I think it may be gone, on the back of a trailer and gone. But to the people who have the car, please return it. Leave it somewhere, in a car park and just give it back. We're struggling to manage without it.

annoyed

"I can't bring Shauna anywhere, I can't collect my mother from the nursing home. It's horrible, and I'm so annoyed and upset at the same time," she said.

The family may also be left in limbo for some time, with the insurance company saying they could not pay out on the stolen car for six weeks, and insurance on a rental car - if they find a wheelchair accessible one - only covering five days.

"We may have to wait for up to six weeks to get the car replaced. I just don't know how we're going to manage for that long without it," Mrs Lee said.

She also described how various meaningful items had been left in the vehicle when it was robbed, including a letter for a young boy in hospital.

"One of my son's friends is currently in hospital in Dublin, so his class in Athlone all signed a card wishing him well. It was a nice little gift for him to have while he was in hospital, and we were meant to deliver it. But that's gone now as well," Mrs Lee said.

However, the response they have received since the car was stolen has helped the family with their predicament, with strangers from all over the country offering support.

"People have been great, I keep getting messages of support from complete strangers, people offering to bring us and Shauna around until we find a replacement car. It really has been great," Maureen said.

hnews@herald.ie

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