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Thieves take Raleigh man's handicapped-equipped car

Posted February 11

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— Thieves have taken what one Raleigh father calls his lifeline to the world.

Mike Leary awoke Wednesday ready to start a new job at Home Depot, only to find his handicapped-equipped car stolen from his carport.

"It wasn't much of a car," Leary said Thursday. "It's a $300 car. Who steals a handicapped-equipped, $300 car?"

The 2001 Suzuki Esteem has hand controls for the gas and the brakes because Leary was diagnosed four years ago with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, a neurological disorder that leads to progressive weakness and impaired sensory function in the legs and arms.

"We could get the wheelchair, the two boys and the dog in it all at the same time," he said.

Leary was angry at first, and as the single father tried to figure out how to get his two sons to school and himself to his new job, he broke down in front of his boys. But he then collected himself and determined his only option on such short notice was taking a cab.

"To get to Daniels (Middle School) was $25, to Conn (Elementary School) was $10, and I had to go to my first day of training at Home Depot, so that was $30," he said. "That was $65, and I made $35 at Home Depot, so I’m 30 bucks in the hole. We can’t do that."

Now, Leary is leaning on friends to help him out with daily tasks.

"He’s already suffered other hard knocks in terms of life situations that come up in lots of people’s lives, so he didn’t need this situation to happen," said Ricardo Perez, who took Leary to the supermarket on Thursday.

Leary is grateful for all the help.

"It’s restored my faith in humanity," he said. "Waking up I hated the world when my car was gone. People have offered to help me get them [the boys] to and from school, take me to the doctor, the grocery store, whatever."

Although he set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to buy another car and install hand controls, Leary said he would prefer to simply have his trusty lifeline back, and he has a message for whoever took it.

"I'd say, 'Please bring it back,'" he said. "'You had fun with it. It had a full tank of gas in it. You've had your fun. Just please bring it back.'"

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  • Stacie Hagwood Feb 11, 2016
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    It is awful that his car was stolen. But why is he paying to take his children to school? The taxpayer-funded school bus does that for free.