TUESDAY UPDATE: Police say a wheelchair stolen from a young Memphis girl has been recovered, but whether it was still inworking order wasn't immediately known.
The $8,000-chair belongs to 5-year-old Annabelle Hulgan who has been paralyzed from the waist down since birth. It was stolen Monday from the yard of her daytime caregiver, Jackie Jackson.
Police said Jackson, who had been searching her neighborhood for the chair, found it on Tuesday dumped beside a street, disassembled into several pieces.
ORIGINAL STORY: MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Memphis police are searching for a suspect they say stole a custom-made wheelchair from a local girl who is paralyzed from the waist down.
According to mother Christen Hulgan, 5-year-old Annabelle Hulgan - diagnosed with Spina Bifida at birth - cannot walk and relies on her custom-fit wheelchair.
"Her wheelchair is like her legs," Hulgan said. "That is her joy. That is her way of feeling on the same level playing field."
Early Monday morning, Hulgan dropped Annabelle off with her grandmother, Jackie Jackson, and left the wheelchair outside next to Jackson's car.
"I had to do a quick urinary cath on her, which took about four minutes," Jackson said. "I came back out and the wheelchair was gone."
Memphis police believe a thief was scoping out Jackson's end street and stole the wheelchair in a crime of opportunity.
The chair cost $8,000, but would only be worth about $20 in scrap metal.
To Annabelle, however, the wheelchair is priceless. Without it, Hulgan said, the young girl cannot get around. Instead, she relies upon her mom to carry her. Otherwise, she's stuck.
Jackson posted a sign in her front yard with a simple request.
"If they did take it, if they would just drop it off somewhere so someone could find it," Hulgan said.
Annabelle's caretakers called it a shot at redemption, and a chance to return Annabelle's independence.
Annabelle's wheelchair is a juvenile's chair. Her name is monogrammed on the seat back, and the wheels are polka-dotted white, pink, and lime green. The chair is also covered in ribbon.
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