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UPDATED Jan. 28: Life is tough enough for a disabled veteran in East Arlington, but thieves have made it tougher.

John Versackas wants to know how he can keep going after his truck and specialized walker-wheelchair were stolen. His understandable concerns are now being answered to some extent by those responding to a current online crowd-funding initiative.

Channel 5 reported that Versackas has lived for 25 years on Gordon Road and had always felt safe there until now. That feeling was shaken after his blue 2006 Honda Ridgeline, which was parked in the front driveway, was stolen early Saturday, Jan. 14.

Thieves hit neighborhood

Arlington police said a different vehicle was stolen from the Homewood Suites hotel near Versackas's home. Moreover, several other vehicles in Versackas's neighborhood were also broken into over the weekend, local police said.

Versackas told Channel 5 that his truck's doors had been locked and that his truck keys were inside his house.

GoFundMe video:

"We were just panicking like crazy," he was quoted as saying to local television stations.

"I had the car all paid off. I really can't afford another vehicle," the 69-year-old told Channel NBC Boston, adding that he was shocked when his wife told him his truck was gone.

"I have one lung. I have congestive heart disease. When [treatment] doesn't work right, my legs swell up," he told Channel 10.

ACMi interviews Versackas:

The Arlington Police Department confirmed to Channel 5 that it is searching for Versackas's truck, which has a sticker saying "Framingham State College Dad," a pit bull sticker and one about the Patriots/Tampa Bay.

"You feel violated really bad," Versackas told Channel 5. "I got very paranoid. I mean, what's the next step? Are they going to break into the house?"

Versackas does not get around nearly as well as he used to when he was in the U.S. Army, serving in the Korean Demilitarized Zone, during the 1970s. His specialized walker-wheelchair and handicap placard were inside the truck when it was stolen.

He said he is now trying to figure out how he can get to his doctor's office at the VA and anywhere else he needs to go.

"I'm very depressed because I had it all paid off, and I'm on a budget because I've been out of work. I'm on a medical [leave]," Versackas said. "I don't know what I'm going to do if I don't get my truck back."

Fund-raising effort, truck found

Versackas's family has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover the costs of replacing his truck, specialized walker-wheelchair and other stolen items. Click here to donate. As of early Jan. 21, that appeal totaled $13,375.

On Jan. 19, Channel 5 reported that the truck had been found.

Anyone with information about the thefts or break-ins is asked to call the Arlington Police Department.

Versackas told Channel 10: "Please return my vehicle, I'll forget all about it. I really need it back. It's all I have," he pleaded. "I'm on a budget because I'm out on medical [leave]. I can't afford another truck. I would just love it back. That's all." 


Jan. 14, 2023: 3 charged in home-improvement scam targeting elderly

 


This news summary was published Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023, based on information from two Boston television stations. It was updated Jan. 28, to report the latest appeal total and add an ACMi video