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Published: August 16, 2008 05:55 am ShareThisPrintThis
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Thief deals low blow by stealing wheelchair lift
By Mike Stucka
Staff Writer

SALEM - Tom Tardiff was surprised that someone would steal a 1,000-pound wheelchair lift from the Ancient Order of the Hibernians hall. But he's simply shocked that someone stole it in broad daylight with a marked truck as people from two funerals gathered inside the Boston Street building.
"It's not a little larceny," Tardiff, the bar manager, said last night. "Especially for us to replace it right now is going to be impossible. I'm still in disbelief, and I can't believe somebody would do something like that."
Some of the people coming and going into the building even talked with the men who were stealing the lift, but thought they were taking it for repairs, he said.
Hibernians realized Thursday the lift had been stolen sometime around noon on Wednesday and called police to report the theft.
The lift was removed from its place in November, when the fraternal organization began installing an expensive sprinkler system. With the sprinkler done, workers had finished a concrete pad and were about to reinstall the lift, which was the building's only handicapped entrance.
The lift, which Tardiff said weighs at least 1,000 pounds and cost about $10,000, brought people to the first main floor, where small weddings and showers were often held.
The lift is a piece of metal that's something like the bottom half of an elevator.
Disabled people rolled their wheelchairs into it, closed a door and were lifted about 5 feet to the first floor.
"It must have taken them at least half an hour to move this thing," Tardiff said. "Several people looked at it, and even just questioned, 'Oh, what are you doing with the lift?'"
Because contractors have been in and out of the hall for the past year, people expected such work. The flatbed truck with a red cab had commercial truck markings on the doors, and the Hibernians hope someone will remember whom the truck belonged to.
Tardiff said he hopes the few scrap yards that could accept the lift would recognize its value, or neighbors might realize someone is suddenly installing an 8-year-old wheelchair lift.
"It's going to be very, very difficult for us to replace, because we just spent all our money on the sprinkler system," Tardiff said.
 
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