Family touched by offers of help after theft

160217 Family touched by help after theft

An Alexandra family with a terminally-ill son are touched at the offers of help flowing in after the theft of their car’s wheels was highlighted in today’s Otago Daily Times.

Several people contacted the ODT today to offer assistance to Ashleigh and Peter Brown, and one offered to buy the couple a new set of wheels.

”That’s so incredible, that people want to help,” Mrs Brown said.

Earlier, the couple said the theft of their car wheels had ”gutted” them and the ”low” act was another blow for them.

”It seems that this year, everything that can go wrong for us, has gone wrong and every month there’s more bad news,”  Mrs Brown said.

The theft of the four wheels and wheel nuts on Saturday morning from their white Honda Accord, parked in the drive of their Alexandra home, was more bad luck, she said.

The couple welcomed their first child, Riley, in February and he was diagnosed with Zellweger Syndrome – a genetic condition so rare, it only affects one in every 50,000 or 100,000 babies. There is no treatment or cure and babies with the condition rarely survive beyond the first year.

”We really rely on our car, to rush Riley to [Dunstan] Hospital if he has a stop-breathing episode – it’s quicker for us to drive there than wait for an ambulance to arrive,” Mrs Brown said yesterday.

”To think that anyone would come along and steal the wheels like this, bringing their own blocks of wood to put under the car, so it was obviously planned …  how low can they go?”

She went to bed at 4am on Saturday after being up with Riley and heard the neighbour’s dog barking ten minutes later.

”I probably just missed it happening – we think there would have to be more than one person that did it. There’s nothing special about the wheels at all, they’re just standard, boring wheels, but it’s gutting to think something like this would happen in little old Alexandra.”

Riley’s health issues and frequent admissions to hospital, in Dunedin as well as to Dunstan, meant the family was struggling financially, Mrs Brown said.

”We worked hard to buy our car and it’s insured but to claim we’d have to pay the excess, of course, which is another  cost to us.”

Riley had been admitted to Dunstan Hospital on Sunday and was back home last night.

”It was just lucky the car had been sorted out again when we needed it urgently on Sunday. Imagine if I’d been home by myself and needed to take Riley to hospital and found the car like that, without wheels.”

The theft had been reported to police and staff at the Alexandra branch of Beaurepaires were also advised, in case they were offered the stolen goods.

A staff member at Beaurepaires had loaned the Browns two spare wheels of his own and Hill Automotive also loaned two spare tyres and wheel nuts, which the family was grateful for, she said.

”But what we’d really like is for the people who took the wheels to have a conscience and return them, no questions asked. ”



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