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Thieves steal quadriplegic's van in Alameda

Thieves steal quadriplegic's fan

October 16, 2010 7:16:28 PM PDT
A disabled man is without the specially-equipped van he needs to get around because a bunch of jerks stole it, but they didn't just rip-off a vehicle, they stole his independence.

Life hasn't always been fair for Darnell Dangerfield. A car crash left him quadriplegic, but three years ago, things changed for the better because of a specially-equipped van.

"It didn't keep me in the house, so it gave me a little freedom to get out. I'd go to Warriors games, baseball games," says Dangerfield.

The 49-year-old calls it his lifeline, but this week that connection was cut when his 1995 Chevy was stolen.

At around 1:45 Monday morning, video cameras outside his home caught three men driving right up to Dangerfield's van, stopping, and then breaking in.

"When they got into the van, they didn't just get in and take off, they got inside and really messed around for at least 10 minutes, so they had to be searching inside to see what was inside of it," says Dangerfield.

Inside, were Darnell's foldable wheel chair and foot rests. The pedals lift his feet up, because he doesn't have the strength hold them up himself. His feet aren't the only things dragging.

"I got no plans now, I got no van," says Dangerfield.

Depression is setting in.

"I'm super angry they would pick on somebody who is disabled," says Gia Whitestripe, Dangerfield's friend. "I'm afraid he may become more withdrawn and reluctant to go out with us like he used to do, he really thought it was a burden prior to him having the van."

Even Alameda police admit someone stealing a quadriplegic's van is a first.

"If this vehicle was particularly targeted because of its equipment, recovering it may be more a little more difficult than normal," says Alameda Police Lt. Mark Landes.

Normally, a special needs van sells for $7,000, which could be the thieves' motive. It's little solace for someone who simply can't afford a new lifeline.

The van looks is a 1995 Chevy Gulf Stream edition. It is a green van with gray stripping. The license plate number is: 9856EDP

Anyone with information on who may have stolen the van, they can call: 510-337-8340


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