A 55-year-old Menlo Park woman with a rare bone disease is anxiously hoping for the return of two wheelchair-equipped vehicles stolen from the front of her home earlier this week.
"I desperately need these vehicles to live my life," Nettie Wijsman said Friday. "Without these vehicles, I can't do my job, I can't do my shopping. It's my legs that just got stolen."
When Wijsman went outside her home in a neighborhood next to Flood Park on Thursday morning, she discovered that her 1999 gold Dodge Caravan and 2000 black Honda CRV were gone.
Adding to her anguish, Wijsman said a moment of forgetfulness the night before when she put something inside her CRV may have contributed to the crime.
"I think I left my keys dangling in the back door of my Honda," Wijsman said. "It was totally stupid on my part. I'm totally devastated."
Her key chain included a key fob for the van, which meant with one click and an identifying beep, the thieves would be able to grab that vehicle as well.
Since 2007, Wijsman has been confined to a wheelchair as a result of a rare condition, called cystic angiomatosis, that's left her with a fragile skeletal system. She was first diagnosed with the disease in her 30s and has since had about 25 surgeries, Wijsman said.
The debilitating condition hasn't curbed her desire for a full life, however. Her team last month placed in a race around San Francisco's McCovey Cove hosted by the Bay Area Association
But the vehicle thefts are threatening to snatch away her independence.
An ergonomics consultant with corporate clients throughout the Bay Area, Wijsman said she spent much of Friday trying to figure out how to get to her San Francisco office Monday. Driving her power wheelchair the three miles to the Caltrain station in Menlo Park might work, but she's worried that her chair battery might not last long enough.
"Plus, it's probably going to take me two and a half, three hours each way," Wijsman said with exasperation.
Police are investigating the thefts, she said, but so far have turned up no leads.
Both vehicles had $28,500 worth of modifications that allowed her to drive them, including wheelchair lifts, she said. Though she had insurance on the Honda, the van was not covered.
The license plate number for the Honda is 5445FDP and for the van 1698VDP.
Anyone with information about the thefts can call the Menlo Park Police Department at 650-330-6300 or leave a message on the department's anonymous tip line at 650-330-6395.