Van theft affects handicapped vets

July 2, 2013 • Local News

Jessica Palmer Photo
The wheels and tires were stolen from the Southeast New Mexico Veterans Transport Network van. The van is one of six vehicles; however, it is the only one that was built to carry the handicapped. Because of this, the wheels and tires are an odd size and hard to find. The organization has to have it back in service by Wednesday.

Southeastern New Mexico Veterans’ Transportation Network and all those whom they support have become the victims of a crime. Greg Neal, vice president of SENMVTN, reported to the Legislative and Military Affairs Committee that they found their handicapped van up on blocks Monday morning.

The incident was reported to the police around 5:45 a.m. Monday, although the van was all right when last seen on Saturday.

“The gate was [auth] locked. They had to cut through the fence near the alley to get at the tires. We used to park close to Second Street, but our windows kept getting shot out,” Neal said.

SENMVTN provides transportation for area veterans to obtain medical treatment. The organization serves veterans in four counties: Chaves, Roosevelt, Eddy and Lea; taking them to medical facilities in Artesia, Albuquerque, Lubbock and Amarillo, Texas.

Neal told the Daily Record that criminals are getting brazen. “They steal from the elderly, from kids, from the poor and now vets. They steal the copper from air conditioners at churches. These people have no conscience.”

The van was the only one purposely built for the handicapped. He said the other vans allow them to fold up the wheelchair and place the person in a seat, but this van could transport patients within their wheelchairs.

“Now we can’t find the wheels and tires to replace them.” Neal explained that the wheels and tires were a special size. “There’s none here in Roswell. We have been calling all over, and we have a very sick, wheelchair-bound vet who has an appointment on Wednesday.”

Anyone having information about this crime is asked to contact Crime Stoppers, 888-594-TIPS (8477).

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