BURGLARS who stole the savings of a disabled South Launceston woman may have destroyed her chance of returning to work.
Cerebral palsy sufferer Natasha Street had saved $6000 to buy a specially-designed electric wheelchair needed to allow her to cope with full-time employment.
When she returned home to discover the cash and some medication stolen on December 8, four years of study, surgery and saving were washed away. The 37-year-old, a regular sight around Launceston with her dog Freda at her side, said she felt violated.
Ms Street had put all her spare change for the past four years in a large tin belonging to her grandfather. It was because of a promise to him that Ms Street endured five leg operations, including two surgical breaks, and then returned to university.
He had been “like her best friend” and passed away the day before her first leg correction surgery in 2007.
She had planned to start work as a social worker this year but cannot do it without the new chair.
“I have a good brain, I just can’t walk long distances,” Ms Street said.
“I was saving up for a mobile office.”
Government programs offer grants of up to $20,000 towards the cost of a wheelchair, but the electric chair Ms Street needs is $25,000.
And she is “quite rightly” not a high priority for a grant, adding “there are people a lot worse off than me”.
Ms Street can walk short distances using walking sticks but has outgrown her current electric wheelchair.
“My body shape has completely changed (because of the operations), so I’m a lot taller, a lot straighter, and my wheelchair no longer fits me,” she said.
She describes her walk, using walls for support, as “a bit like a toddler _ I can walk unaided but only for short distances and I pay for it in pain.”
Detective Constable Mandy Ladson, of Launceston CIB, said police had gathered forensic evidence from Ms Street’s home and the investigation was ongoing.
Anyone with information is asked to call Launceston CIB on 6336 3915 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
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