Theft of 9-year-old's wheelchair from front porch captured on surveillance video

Nine-year-old Aaliyah Faulknor's bright pink, custom wheelchair was stolen from the porch of her family's home in London, Ont., and surveillance video shows a man taking it away. While police have made an arrest and recovered the wheelchair, it's been stripped of its parts.

London, Ont., police make arrest, but Aaliyah Faulknor's $10K wheelchair is now unusable

Aaliyah Faulknor, 9, has cerebral palsy and can only walk just about three metres at a time. Her custom wheelchair was stolen, then recovered by London, Ont., police, but it's now unusable. (Submitted by Hayley Fair)

Surveillance video captured the moment someone stole nine-year-old Aaliyah Faulknor's bright pink wheelchair from the front porch of her family's Old East Village home in London, Ont.

While police made an arrest and recovered the $10,000 custom chair, it's been stripped of its parts and is unusable.

"You can see someone come onto our porch and take it and ride away with it on a bicycle," said Aaliyah's 21-year-old sister, Hayley Fair.

Fair said the suspect dragged the wheelchair behind his bike. 

Aaliyah has cerebral palsy and can only walk about three metres at a time, said Fair.

After a 14-month waiting period, the family was able to get the custom wheelchair six years ago through the Thames Valley Children's Centre.

WATCH | Surveillance video shows man walking away with child's wheelchair:

Girl's custom wheelchair stolen, then returned stripped and unusable

CBC News London

1 month ago
A surveillance camera captured the moment someone stole 9-year-old Aaliyah Faulknor's wheelchair from the front porch of her home in London, Ont., on June 22, 2021. 0:30

At the time, the chair cost $8,000 and the family was given a 75 per cent subsidy. Two years ago, the family paid $2,000 to retrofit it to make it bigger.

On Wednesday morning, a London police officer came to the family home with the recovered wheelchair, said Fair.  

"They said that someone called them and said they found it."

In a news release, police said the wheelchair was found in a man's possession, and they're still investigating.

"A knife was seized and the suspect is currently in custody."

Fair said the wheelchair "has been stripped of parts, spray painted. The frame that's left is all bent. The parts that are gone are worth thousands of dollars. It's not repairable."

On Wednesday morning, police returned the wheelchair to Aaliyah in this shape. (Submitted by Hayley Fair)

The money isn't the biggest concern in replacing the chair.

Instead, it's the waiting period to secure the proper parts.

"Our health insurance will probably cover it because it was on our porch," said Fair. 

But getting a custom wheelchair that is covered in part by subsidies would likely take more than a year, she said.

In the meantime, she said, the family is hoping for a loaner chair, although it's unlikely her sister would be able to wheel a replacement chair herself.

"We'll be able to get her places, but her independence will still be gone."

The good news? Since the story was first made public, a local fundraising campaign has raised close to $10,000.

Aaliyah and her sister Hayley Fair, 21, who says her little sister's wheelchair is irreparable. (Submitted by Hayley Fair)


Rebecca Zandbergen

Host, London Morning

Rebecca Zandbergen is from Ottawa and has worked for CBC Radio across the country for more than 15 years, including stops in Iqaluit, Halifax, Windsor and Kelowna.