Stolen car is lifeline for Port Richmond victim

January 27, 2011 8:43:47 PM PST
Police in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia are trying to track down not just a stolen car, but a person's lifeline.

The car that George Lees depends on is now missing. He says it was stolen on Belgrade Street near Allegheny sometime between 5:30 a.m. and 8:10 a.m. Wednesday.

When his brother realized it was gone, he immediately called the police.

"In a nutshell, it was my independence. The car looks like it's been through World War I and II, but I couldn't put a price on that," George said.

George has cerebral palsy and his car was outfitted specifically for his needs. It included hand controls that helped him steer and a bench seat that allowed him to slide in.

"The way they make them now with the bucket seats and the console, I couldn't replace it now if I wanted to," George said.

George is active in his community and is described as a pillar member of Division 87 of the Ancient Order of Hibernians for which in 2008 he was named Man of the Year. He says 10 years ago, he had to go on permanent disability after 24 years with Sun Oil.

He can't afford a replacement car, let alone with the features he needs.

"When I got the hand controls for this car they were $1,300 and that was 20 years ago," George said.

His car looks similar to a 1991 Buick Skylark, but it's a two door. The top is rusty, and it's midnight blue. His brother Jim just hopes someone will return it.

"Whoever's got it, return it, no questions asked," Jim said.

Now, with no car and no prospect for a replacement that fits his needs, George has a message for whomever is responsible.

"Whoever took the car you have no idea on the impact on my life, the mobility I do have, you've taken it away," George said.

Anyone with information should call the 24th police district at (215) 686-3240.