Su Zhen Luo, 85, had her wheelchair/walker stolen from her front yard in Whalley. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Elderly Surrey woman’s wheelchair/walker swiped

Su Zhen Luo, 85, suffers from a spinal injury from a fall and depended on her $254.99 stroller to get around

On the scale of human depravity, it ranks low. But for Su Zhen Luo, the theft of her wheelchair/walker combo from her Surrey home last Friday was evil enough.

Luo, 85, suffers from a spinal injury from a fall and depended on her $254.99 stroller to get around before a thief crept in through the garden gate of her daughter’s townhouse and stole it.

Daniel Blanchette, her son-in-law, is nonplussed.

“It took a lot of personal strength, character, and courage to come to our door at night and steal a hybrid stroller/wheelchair of a disabled 85-year-old woman,” he said, with contempt.

“It takes courage.”

The stroller had been leaning against the wall beside the front door of the Chatham Lane townhouse where the family lives, in the 13400-block of 92nd Avenue in Whalley. Min Li, Luo’s daughter, said her mother was panicked when she discovered it had been stolen.

“I find it just disgusting,” Li said of the theft. The good news is, Li has since bought her mom a new wheelchair/walker and this one will be kept indoors.

Asked if she contacted police, Li replied she hadn’t because police consider this type of crime to be “petty,” and “petty crime, I don’t think the RCMP is interested.”

Blanchette echoed that sentiment, reflecting on past experiences when their Bonsais, Buddha statues and Japanese lanterns were also stolen.

“What’s the use?” Blanchette asks. “Years ago we called when the Bonsais were stolen, the statues were stolen, they come and they make a report. Neighbours did the same thing. Nothing ever gets done.

“Nowadays I don’t even care of calling, because I know they are overburdened.”

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Blanchette said the neighbourhood has been plagued by theft since he and his wife moved to Surrey in 1997. Bicycles have been stolen from the townhouse complex, he said, as well as a neighbour’s lawnmower.

“A neighbour of ours caught one of the guys on his pickup truck trying to cut a piece of his muffler with a torch in the middle of the night.”

Luo speaks Cantonese. Li translated for her.

Luo told the Now-Leader she emigrated to Canada from Guangzhou, China in 1994. Over the years, she said, she’s felt increasingly less safe in Surrey.

“She said she felt safety is not as good as before,” Li said. “She felt people were nicer before.”

“She lost sleep” after her wheelchair/walker was stolen, worrying about how to get around. “Without that, she couldn’t move.”

“She said the most angry thing for her was she put it by the door, so nicely.”

Surrey council has determined to replace the Surrey RCMP with a city-made police force. Asked if he thinks this would change things for the better, Blanchette replied with a question of his own.

“Does Toronto or Calgary have less crime because they have their city police force? I don’t know if it will be a better thing or not. Most likely more expensive, since we lose at least 10 per cent from the federal government.

“Will a municipal police force be better?” he shrugged.

“I don’t know. How could less boots on the street be better?”

Blanchette said he’s written letters to city hall about problems in the neighbourhood.

“I wrote letters to Dianne Watts when she was mayor about it, to Linda Hepner about it, to the whole councillors about it. And now we just mailed one to Mayor McCallum about it. I hope a solution will be done to stop this. Who wants to live in a Fort Knox situation, with guard dogs?”

Security lighting on the sides of homes to deter theft doesn’t seem to produce the desired effect, Blanchette noted.

Surrey RCMP Constable Richard Wright said the detachment takes “all reports from the public as serious, and we investigate them thoroughly and we encourage everyone to report crimes to us.

“I encourage the family to call us,” Wright said.

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