Thousands of dollars in equipment stolen from veterans’ charity

Crime Watch

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IDAHO FALLS — More than $3,000 worth of equipment from a veterans’ charity organization was stolen over the weekend.

“You just feel violated,” Veterans Mobility Corps Operations Manager Nancy Shamel says. “We’re a nonprofit organization, and to have somebody come and do this to us is kind of heart-sickening.”

Veterans Mobility Corps refurbishes donated power chairs. They are then given to veterans, spouses, or children of veterans.

Veterans Mobility Corps Vice President Frank Smith found the storage unit for the organization was broken into Saturday. He discovered the unit, located at Whitmore Storage on Skyline Drive, had a new lock on it. The original lock had been sawed off and was replaced with another.

“I have a feeling they’re coming back… why else would they put their own lock on?” Smith says. “I think they probably filled up a truck, and away they went.”

Smith found multiple pieces of equipment missing, including a Coleman 4500 generator, a new Kobalt air compressor, two tubs full of wheelchair battery chargers and other items. No wheelchairs were stolen.

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“They took all of my chargers, so I have no chargers for the wheelchairs,” Shamel says.

Shamel says the generator was used to power the electric wheelchairs they had in storage. The batteries lose power over time, so they keep them charged with a generator. She says the air compressor was used for cleaning.

Shamel reported the incident to police, who are continuing to look into the burglary.

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“Anything that people can give us to help us out with this we will gladly take,” Idaho Falls Police Sgt. Jon Johnson told EastIdahoNews.com.

“All we can do is try to get funding to get the equipment back,” Shamel says.

The Veterans Mobility Corps has gifted more than 225 chairs.

“We have two more to deliver in the next couple weeks so we’ll be at 230,” Smith says.

Smith says, however, the incident has been a setback.

“It’s going to hurt somebody that’s not going to get a chair that they should have (gotten) more quickly,” Smith says.

He says if the public can be on the lookout for online sales or postings of the missing items it would be a great help. He says he’s notified local pawnshops of the incident so owners can be aware.

“I’m hoping that whoever did this will… return the stuff. Even if they stacked it out front we’d be happy to get it back,” Smith says.

If you have information about the stolen items, contact IFPD dispatch at (208) 529-1200 or Crime Stoppers at (208) 522-1983.

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