HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Lawmakers in Albany want to punish heartless thieves who steal vital medical equipment.
That kind of theft happened last month on Long Island, and a Coram mother is still struggling without a much-needed custom wheelchair, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Tuesday.
Life for Roxanne Drayton and her 28-year-old son, Todd, has profound challenges. He has cerebral palsy and Down syndrome.
Last week, things got even harder. The family van was stolen right from their Coram driveway. It was idling while Roxanne loaded up Todd’s oxygen tank. The thief drove off with his lifeline, a custom-made wheelchair.
“They took his legs from him. They took his independence from him. People don’t know how desperately you need these things,” Roxanne said.
But from rock bottom Roxanne has seen the depths of kindness. She was surprised with the news that a new custom wheelchair is on the way, donated by Community Care Companions and Generation Kia gave her the choice of picking one of three vans.
“When you look at what she’s going through with her son, and taking care of him every day, it’s the least we could do,” Generation Kia owner Joe Catalanotto said.
And recently less tangible — but no less appreciated — gift was given to her. Members of the New York Assembly vowed to raise the penalties for criminals who steal vital medical equipment from a disabled or elderly victim.
“Under current law, it goes based on the value of the item. Our new bill would add the fact that a wheelchair, a walker, even an oxygen canister, something people need in their everyday life, we think that should be stricter penalty,” said Assemblyman Doug Smith, R-Holbrook.
Advocates for the disabled say increased penalties are needed because the value of medical equipment cannot only be measured by dollars and cents.
“You steal life from that person and that is incredibly inhumane to do to anybody,” said Bob Policastro, executive director of Angela’s House.
The legislation is called “Todd’s Law.”
“I just want to say thank you so much. I feel like this is justice,” Roxanne said.
Roxanne said she not only has renewed faith in the justice system, but also in the goodness of others. The bill bearing her son’s name will be introduced in January.
Suffolk County Police have not made an arrest in the criminal case, but said the investigation is continuing.