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Scrappers Suspected Of Stealing Teen's Wheelchair

GURNEE (CBS) — Police believe scrappers, people who cruise areas when it is garbage day and pick up metal, may have been the ones who stole a teen's wheelchair.

Marlon Tapang's specialized motorized wheelchair was taken just before the bus arrived to take him to Warren Township High School last Friday, which was garbage day in his Hasting Lane neighborhood.

His mother, Jarka, said the chair cost $7,681.

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Jarka's husband Paul was going about his usual routine that Friday morning. He placed the chair outside in the driveway and returned to the house to help his son use a walker to get to the driveway.

When Paul got back outside, the bus was already there and he assumed the bus driver had already taken the chair, which had a backpack with Marlon's study notes for his final exams and his lunch bag, and put it on the bus.

"Then they got a telephone call from the school and they asked why they sent him to school without his wheelchair," Gurnee Police Cmdr. Jay Patrick said Wednesday. "There have been no leads," he said, adding he believes scrappers got it.

The motorized custom-made wheelchair affords Marlon, who has cerebral palsy, the most independence. His mother expects to be able to get another one through the insurance company, and she is asking people who want to donate money to her to instead donate money to the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association of Lake Forest, which helps disabled children play sports by providing special equipment.

"If the insurance comes through, people should help out this place, it's the best place," she said. GLASA donated a chair for Marlon to use temporarily.

She recently heard from a friend who had their lawnmower grabbed by scrappers. The friend's husband tried to chase them, but they were too fast.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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