A 75-year-old man who has a disability is now housebound after his custom wheelchair was stolen from his apartment building in James Bay.
Priya Diddee bought the wheelchair for her father and tells CTV News Vancouver Island she was in disbelief when she couldn’t find it on Thursday morning.
“The retail value of this chair is around $6,000,” she said. “I got it second hand, so I got a really good deal. The controls are on the left because he only has use of his left hand.”
They leave his wheelchair in a room off the lobby in their apartment building on Simcoe Street, but when she went to get the wheelchair Thursday, it was gone.
“I plugged it in the night before … and came back to pick it up the next morning to take him to watch the Star Wars movie and it was gone,” said Priya.
Her father, who goes by the name J.K., said he thought to himself, “Does that mean I am stuck inside the house?”
The custom wheelchair allows him to explore Victoria after two strokes left him disabled.
“I don’t know what type of desperation that person would be facing in their life,” he said of the thief.
Priya said the person would have needed a key to get into the building or would have had to sneak in with someone.
“I’m shocked, in disbelief and angry,” she said. “Who steals from a disabled person? Why would anybody need a chair like that unless they had disabilities?”
Victoria police said they are investigating and hope to be able to return the wheelchair to the Diddee family.
“Often, thefts like this don’t target the chair itself, but the components like batteries and electric motors,” said VicPD spokesperson Bowen Osoko.
Police say the wheelchair is a JAZZY make with the model number 1113 ats. It also has a distinguishable BC Transit sticker on the front of the chair.
“We’d very much like to reunite Mr. Diddee with his only mode of transportation,” said Osoko.
Priya said he will now be stuck at home alone for the next five days while she is working.
“They robbed my father of his independence,” she said.
A stranger reached out to Priya offering to make a GoFundMe campaign so they could purchase a new wheelchair.
“It’s heartwarming to see the community coming together,” said Osoko.
Anyone who recognizes the chair or has information about the theft is being asked to call police at 250-995-7654.