Stockton police say suspected thief caught, wheelchair returned to child with cerebral palsy

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STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) -- A suspected thief is now behind bars and a disabled boy’s once stolen wheelchair is now back home.

Yanelli Rodriguez said her 7-year-old son’s wheelchair was stolen from their south Stockton home Wednesday morning.

“'Oh my God, they stole his wheelchair.' And that’s when I jumped in the truck and went looking for it. And there was nothing,” Rodriguez said.

Her son, Antonio Ceja, has cerebral palsy and without the wheelchair his mobility is limited.

Rodriguez said because of the theft, Antonio had to miss school.

“His wheelchair is everything,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez had been searching for her son’s stolen wheelchair throughout Stockton. Officers and the family followed up on tip after tip, which led to dead end after dead end.

That is until several hours later when a woman spotted Antonio’s green and black wheelchair in north Stockton.

Yanelli Rodriguez's 7-year-old son’s wheelchair was returned to them Wednesday. (Photo by the Stockton Police Department)

“This arrest, it took place where we’re at right here outside the Bank of Stockton. It’s a great ending to a very unfortunate situation,” Officer Joe Silva told FOX40.

Officers identified the suspect as 39-year-old Lonnie Franks and took him into custody.

“I just can’t wait to show him, that, hey, you know, I found it,” Rodriguez said.

The Stockton Police Department says the happy ending is all thanks to the power of social media and the Stockton community.

According the Stockton Police Department, the suspect is facing felony possession of stolen property charges.

 

CORRECTION: Stockton Police confirm the suspect's last name is Franks, not Frank as previously reported.

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