Police nab suspect in theft, scrapping of Delaware County child’s wheelchair

     Four-year-old Nicholas Lovecchio is seated in the wheelchair that police say was stolen from outside his Brookhaven home. (Image via gofundme.com/wheelchair4nicolas)

    Four-year-old Nicholas Lovecchio is seated in the wheelchair that police say was stolen from outside his Brookhaven home. (Image via gofundme.com/wheelchair4nicolas)

    After a child’s wheelchair was stolen and sold for scrap metal in Delaware County, police say they have the culprit.

    Meanwhile, the Brookhaven community has come to the support of 4-year-old Nicolas Lovecchio, who has epilepsy. The chair, left in front of the Lovecchios’ home, was reported missing Monday night.

    On Tuesday, police visited the Darby Township scrap yard where they suspected the thief cashed in the stolen wheelchair. As Police Chief Randy McGoldrick and his partner walked back to their car, they both did a double take.

    “Guess who pulls in to scrap more stuff that day?” McGoldrick said. “The suspect. So we literally pulled him out of the car and interview him on the spot. And he confessed. At first he didn’t, it took him a while, but then he confessed.”

    The child’s family set up an online fundraiser for a new wheelchair. Donations have exceeded $5,000 — already a few thousand dollars more than the chair’s cost.

    By the end of the week, police said, they will charge the suspect, a 30-something man who drives a pickup truck and resides a few houses down from the Lovecchio family in Brookhaven, according to McGoldrick.

    Authorities have not yet identified the suspect.

    But police say his main form of income was derived from scrapping metal.

    “It’s a whole culture,” McGoldrick said. “A lot of people just do it. They look for trash and bicycles. What happens is, people venture further into your yard. In other words, you throw out your kid’s bike because it’s beat, but then they venture half way up your yard and grab the bike that’s not being thrown out.”

    The chair was among 500 pounds of metal the thief scrapped. How much did he get for the whole heap?

    “A whopping $43,” McGoldrick said.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.