CLEVELAND-- The sound of sobbing could be heard above the noise of traffic as it moved in and out of the impound lot, operated by Cleveland police on Quigley Road.
Linda Grose was grief-stricken over the theft of her 1999 Dodge Caravan, stolen early Sunday morning, just five days after she had purchased it with money she’d saved from her Social Security disability check.
Grose said Cleveland police told her a group of joy-riding thieves crashed the Caravan into a parked car less than an hour after having stolen it around 3:30 a.m.
"I'm really, really heartbroken,” sobbed Grose.
The 65-year-old woman watched, as her 70-year-old husband and a family friend pushed the broken down van out of the lot to a waiting trailer that would take it home.
“I'm very upset; I don’t know why somebody would do this to me," she told Call for Action Reporter Lorrie Taylor.
Jim Gercar, a family friend, said he knows what a hardship the theft has been for the family.
He loaned Grose the $140 required by Cleveland police to release the van. He also took off from work to help her and the family get it home.
"People should help each other out more often,” said Gercar, “The world would be a better place."
What Gercar could not do for Grose was replace a wheelchair she had in the back of the van. Grose is partially paralyzed and needs it to get around. More importantly, to her, the chair once belonged to Grose’s deceased father.
The 65-year-old woman’s despair was not lost on FOX 8 viewers, who saw a report on Sunday’s evening news.
Several people called to offer wheelchairs on which their own loved ones had relied, despite any sentimental value that might be attached. Beth Mathews from Mentor was one of them.
"When she started to cry and said that the wheelchair belonged to her father, it really touched me because my mother recently died,” said Mathews. “And you find that you have an emotional attachment to their belongings, and I just knew right away, where my mom's wheelchair should go."
Mathews helped Taylor load two wheelchairs, a standard-sized chair and a smaller, more portable wheelchair, into an SUV. We rolled up to Grose’s West 44th Street home in less than an hour.
"We've got a beautiful wheelchair, and not just one but two," shouted Taylor, as she opened the back hatch.
Family members helped unload the precious cargo from the back of the SUV, rolling the chairs to the front porch where Linda Grose sat in astonishment.
"This is just so nice,” she sobbed. “I didn't think there was anybody out there like that.”
"I'm so happy,” said Grose, as she wiped her eyes. “Whoever gave them to you, thank them so much for me."
Grose told Taylor she’ll catch a ride with her son until she can get back on the road. It is not clear if the stolen Caravan can be repaired; Grose only carried liability insurance and she cannot afford to have the van fixed.
Cleveland police have not caught the young men who ran away from the scene after Sunday’s crash.