Theft of wheelchair from girl without legs met with outpouring of support


Santa Ana police are trying to track down a special wheelchair used by a 4-year-old girl born without legs that was stolen from outside her home last weekend.

“I have no idea why somebody would take it, other than to melt it down for money,” said Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, spokesman for the Santa Ana Police Department. “There’s no reason [to want it] unless you’re a 4-year-old without legs.”

Police say the wheelchair, which was specially built for Milagros Perez to help with her posture, disappeared between 10 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. Sunday.


The family had left the wheelchair behind a gate outside their apartment on the 400 block of South Flower Street. After searching for the wheelchair and checking nearby pawn shops, the family reported the theft Tuesday night.

The theft has spurred an outpouring of support for Milagros and her family. KNBC-TV reported that the Saul Brandman Foundation donated $10,000 to replace the custom wheelchair, which police estimated could cost from $8,500 to $10,000 to build.

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After learning that the family had been planning to get a Christmas tree Wednesday, employees at a local Home Depot store presented them with a tree, ornaments and some toys, Bertagna said. And police officers are providing a Thanksgiving dinner for the family.

Police urged anyone with information about the theft to call detectives at (714) 245-8345. The department is directing donations for the family to the Widows and Orphans Fund of the Santa Ana Police Officers’ Assn.

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