British Columbia

'I just need my legs back': Stolen wheelchair leaves Vancouverite homebound

Romham Gallacher was getting set to leave their East Vancouver home on Saturday morning when it became apparent something was horribly wrong. 

Motorized wheelchair worth $4,000 is the only way Romham Gallacher can get around

Romham Gallacher uses this motorized wheelchair to do everything from pick up groceries to take part in dance performances. Gallacher says the wheelchair was stolen from their east Vancouver home Saturday morning. (Romham Gallacher)

Romham Gallacher was getting set to leave home on Saturday morning when it became apparent something was horribly wrong. 

The shed containing Gallacher's motorized wheelchair had been broken into. The wheelchair was gone, along with its charger. 

"I panicked," said Gallacher, who uses the pronouns they/them, over the phone from their home. "I honestly don't know what I'm what I'm going to do."

Gallacher quickly created some flyers to share on social media, and filed a police report in hope of recuperating the $4,000 wheelchair as quickly as possible. 

CBC News contacted the Vancouver police about the missing chair but did not get an immediate response.

'I can't go do anything'

At home in East Vancouver, near Victoria Drive and Venables Street, Gallacher can get around on a couple of forearm crutches.

But to leave, Gallagher needs their motorized wheelchair to do everything from buy groceries to attend choir practice. 

"It completely changes my life," Gallacher said, crying. "I can't go do anything." 

Gallacher says they submitted these photos to Vancouver police when this motorized wheelchair was stolen sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning. (Romham Gallacher)

Gallacher suffers from ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis that affects the spine, and lives off of disability payments. Money to buy the wheelchair about a year ago came from a small inheritance when Gallacher's parents died.

"I knew that I would be needing it for a long time and I wanted to get something that would really work for my body," Gallacher said, adding that the lightweight, customized wheelchair fits better than mobility scooters they've used in the past. 

Buying a new one isn't financially feasible. 

No questions asked

Gallacher says friends and community members have been helpful — putting up flyers, searching for the wheelchair and dropping by with groceries. Some have even offered to host a fundraiser. 

But until Gallacher can get their motorized wheelchair back, any sort of outing is put on hold. 

Gallacher says they hope the thief will return the wheelchair, no questions asked. 

"I have no desire to criminalize anyone over this," they said. "I just need my legs back."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Maryse Zeidler

@MaryseZeidler

Maryse Zeidler is a reporter for CBC News in Vancouver, covering news from across British Columbia. You can reach her at maryse.zeidler@cbc.ca.

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