A Victoria senior is housebound after his electric wheelchair was stolen from his James Bay home.
Jugal Kishore “J.K.” Diddee is 75 years old and has used a wheelchair for more than 20 years after suffering from two strokes. Diddee can only use his left arm and is also a double amputee. The wheelchair has been customized to operate from the left side and has support barriers since he can’t brace himself with his legs.
On Thursday night his daughter, Priya Diddee, tucked his wheelchair in their building’s mobile device storage room and plugged in the battery for charging so that the pair could go see the new Star Wars movie the next day. When Priya went to get the wheelchair on Friday, however, she was met with an empty spot.
“I was in disbelief,” Priya said. “I closed the door and opened it again.”
J.K. was also dumbstruck with the theft, since a thief would need a key to get into the building as well as to know where the storage room was. No other mobility devices were stolen from the room.
“When it sunk in he realized he was completely dependant once again,” Priya said. “He cannot walk. Now in the house he’s completely bedridden.”
While Priya’s mother can help J.K. on short distances if he puts on his prosthetics and sits on a walker, she cannot lift him or go for long distances.
The Diddees have filed a case with the Victoria Police Department, but so far have not heard anything about locating the chair.
People from the community, however, have rallied together to help support the family. Tracy Godfrey, who did not know the Diddees at the time, reached out and asked to start a GoFundMe page.
Initially, the goal was to raise $375 to buy a second-hand wheelchair, which Godfrey collected herself. The wheelchair, however, was too small and had to be returned. Since then, more than $800 has been raised, though a suitable replacement wheelchair has yet to be found.
The stolen wheelchair was a Jazzy 1113 ATS. It has a grey metal base and a black seat, as well as a joystick on the left side, customized side barriers and a BC Transit sticker on the front right side. The estimated value of such a chair is around $6,000, though Priya was able to purchase it at a discounted rate.
“I’m really hoping to get the old chair back, that was his pride and joy,” she said.
J.K., in turn, said he hopes the chair had been stolen for someone in need, rather than just for money.
Anyone with information on the theft can contact the Victoria Police Department at 250-995-7654.