Hagerstown man gets his wheelchair back

December 20, 2007|By HEATHER KEELS and ANDREW SCHOTZ

A man's wheelchair that was stolen last week from the lobby of the Wal-Mart Supercenter at the Centre at Hagerstown was found Wednesday morning, police said.

Hagerstown Police Department Sgt. Paul Kifer said someone left the wheelchair in a grassy area outside Concordia Lutheran Church, near Oak Ridge Drive.

Police picked up the wheelchair and took it to its owner, Tony Faison, 23, of Hagerstown, around 11 a.m. It appeared to be in about the same shape as when Faison last saw it, Kifer said.

Faison said he was surprised and relieved by the development.

"I thought they weren't going to find it, and it was going to take two months to get a new one," he said.


Kifer said coverage of the theft and surveillance pictures on TV, in the newspaper and on the Internet led to a lot of offers of assistance for Faison and tips about who the thief might be.

"The local media definitely helped us in this case," Kifer said.

He said police have a lead on who the thief was.

Now that the costly custom-made chair has been returned, Wal-Mart, which announced Tuesday it would pay to have it replaced, has agreed to use that money to donate wheelchairs to charity, said Michael Martin, general manager of the Centre at Hagerstown store.

Martin said he offered to get Faison a new chair anyway, but Faison refused.

"They already raised the money, so I said, 'Go give it to a charity,'" Faison said.

Martin said he is searching for a local organization that could get the wheelchairs to people who cannot afford them, and hopes to have plans for the donation squared away by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, donations to help Faison and his family continued to come in Wednesday to Crystal Anderson, an office manager at Podiatry Associates of Hagerstown, who started an effort to replace the chair after hearing Faison's story on the radio Tuesday.

Anderson said she still plans to send that money to Faison in the form of a gift card to help make up for the days he wasn't able to work because of the theft.

She said she is waiting until all of the mailed checks come in and plans to drop off the card next week.

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