LAS VEGAS -- Two handicapped Las Vegas men are the victims of a crime in which thieves stole their wheelchairs.
Nathan Peitz and Sean Thomas are old college friends who were born with Spina Bifida. Getting around in a wheelchair is their only means of transportation. They never would have thought a crime like this would make their lives difficult.
Competitive basketball is a passion for Peitz and Thomas. Their love of the game runs deep, and they play in a league on a regular basis. Both men go to the local park to shoot hoops.
"Basketball is my life. If I couldn't play basketball, I don't know what I would be doing," Thomas said.
When they returned home one day, their wheelchairs were gone. "I got really sick to my stomach. I didn't know how someone could just take a wheelchair and rip it apart," Peitz said.
He says two custom made wheelchairs, valued around $4,000 a piece, were taken from the front of his home.
"It's just crazy how somebody could just take somebody's, not just a personal item, it's almost your life almost," Peitz said.
"I don't know how someone could stoop so low. I really don't," Thomas added.
The men called police, but were stunned when authorities were too busy to help.
"They are telling me there's nothing really they can do," Peitz said. "I thought to myself there has to be ways."
"It's a person's mobility, and it's not of any importance," Thomas added. "Yet, they can respond to a call of a drunken party or a noise complaint or something like that, and yet they can't respond to this? It didn't make sense."
The men decided to look for the stolen chairs themselves. It turns out the chairs were destroyed and turned in for scrap metal. They called scrap metal recyclers in the area shortly after they reported the theft to police.
"I would never expect or dreamt of that happening," Peitz said. "What kind of sick people are in this world that would take that kind of stuff or steal?"
Brandon Smith at SA Recycling said he got word about the stolen wheelchairs and when the suspects brought the metal in, his company was able to get all the information on the suspects and turn it over to police. Pictures of the potential suspects and the car they were driving was also turned over to police.
In the meantime, Peitz and Thomas say their insurance will likely replace the chairs, but it takes up to a month to get new ones.