The above van is a Dodge Grand Caravan. This van is different though. It is specially modified and has a ramp so a person in a wheelchair can get in it. This is my van. And it has been stolen.
For most people, a stolen vehicle is a moderate inconvenience. You can get a replacement from insurance, find a rental, a clunker from a family member or friend or at worst take public transportation until other arrangements are made. Of course the amount of inconvenience varies depending on what was in the car at the time but in general, it’s not on the level of catastrophic. This changes when physical disability gets thrown in.
As I covered here, wheelchair vans require extensive modification. Said modification is expensive unless you can get a grant or government help. If not it can add several thousand dollars to the cost of even the most basic vehicle.
For me and other people who were require modified vehicles, the big cost isn’t financial though, it’s practical. Thanks to my epilepsy I can’t drive. I need the van to go to the swimming pool, doctor appointments, job interviews, or social events. If I don’t have a way to get around, I’m stranded. Fortunately, I have a backup plan. I can use the Paratransit (even if it is not always reliable). I have a smaller wheelchair I can put in a normal van. However many people don’t have these backup plans.
These people don’t have a way to get out of their house otherwise. When someone steals their wheelchair van, they steal a person’s link to the outside world.
I can understand needing money because you’re at the end of your rope and being willing to do anything. Heck I might understand a cheap thrill (though this isn’t the type of vehicle you take for a joy ride). However, this puts me in a dangerous place as well.
The van has North Carolina license plates and has the words “ramp van” on the door.
On the off-chance that you are the thief and you are reading this please understand that I can’t legally drive due to epilepsy. This van is basically the only reliable method I have to get around. This is true for most people who have these wheelchair vans. These aren’t easily replaceable. Please be a man (or a woman). If you have someone else’s wheelchair van that does not belong to you, do the right thing. Turn the van over and use this as the chance to turn your life around.