NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk police are investigating a stolen car. It happened Friday night in the Boush Street parking garage.
It is not just any car: It is a specialized car designed for someone who cannot walk.
Now, the owner has offered a $1,000 cash reward for the return of the car.
Newport News resident Jack Rowsey said maybe he had too much faith in humanity, thinking no one would steal from a handicapped person, but says he guesses he was wrong.
“I feel naked. You feel desperate,” Rowsey told 10 On Your Side as he sat in his brother’s car in the same place where his car was stolen Friday night.
It all began Friday around 7 p.m. when Rowsey and a friend went to a show at the Harrison Opera House. After the show, they parked in the Boush Street Garage and go to dinner at Grace O’Malley’s Irish Pub & Restaurant. Around 11:45 p.m., they returned to the parking garage, get off the elevator on the fourth floor and the car is gone.
“I didn’t see the car here. So, we kept going up to see if we were on the wrong floor. We were able to verify certain trash we had thrown out that was still there that we were on the right floor,” Rowsey said.
This wasn’t just some car: it was Rowsey’s specially fitted 2011 Dodge Charger with Virginia handicap plate 948-07H,
“I have a $3,000 wheelchair conversion that was done, so that I could drive the car with my hands,” he said.
Rowsey needed that because he is a paraplegic, paralyzed from the waist down after falling off a roof in September 2020.
“It was parked and clearly marked ‘handicap.’ We are not exempt from that type of crime, evidently. I had half my life in that car. I had side rails, wheelchair, cushion for my back, and all my supplies for the month,” he said.
Rowsey had left a fob inside the unlocked car.
“There was a key fob in the bottom of my bag that was still there in the back seat, so they were able to start the car,” he said.
Can you imagine whoever did this the surprise they got when the car started by pushing the ignition button?
“No doubt, they had a field day that night… The whole carnival… We thought we were in the safest place in the garage, the most lit, there was a camera right over the car, and the car was right next to the elevator,” he said.
Rowsey went to social media after he felt Norfolk police were slow to respond.
Police finally called him Monday morning, and 10 On Your Side got to work as well, and by afternoon police responded to our call by sending a redacted police report.
We also went to City of Norfolk parking, and later received an email from the police telling us there is ongoing investigation and police are in the process of obtaining and reviewing any existing surveillance footage.
“I know there was a camera right above my car, and I can’t get anyone to pinpoint a picture, or a mug shot of the person who did this,” he said.
Police remind people to always lock their car and don’t leave keys or a fob in the car.