UPDATE: Police say stolen crutches returned to Rumford woman

MEXICO — Laura Chesley of Rumford sat at a desk Thursday afternoon inside Praise Assembly of God Church on Congress Street in Rumford.

She was shredding rotisserie-cooked chicken while two women prepared food for the church’s “Passover Last Meal” play that evening and Passover Supper for the public.

Leaning against a wall behind Chesley were her old and broken “lobster claw” crutches instead of her new crutches, which a thief stole late Wednesday afternoon as she shopped in Wal-Mart using a motorized scooter.

Chesley, 57, has been handicapped since birth because the muscle cords in her hips and legs are too short. She said it was despicable that someone would steal her crutches, especially during Passover.

“It’s just hard to fathom,” she said. “It’s just really hard to think that someone would steal my crutches that I need.”

In addition to her muscle condition that worsens every year, Chesley fell on her stairs this winter, hurt her hip and was hospitalized last week in Rumford. “So without my crutches, I don’t really go too far,” she said.

At home, she uses a wheelchair. At the church, parishioners push her around in a desk chair with wheels. Her new aluminum crutches, less than a year old, were valued at about $100.

“I left the crutches at the door like I always do, and when I came out from shopping, they were gone. Amazing,” she said. “Thank God I still had my old ones.”

Mexico police Chief Roy Hodsdon said Thursday that Walmart’s surveillance video showed a woman in her 30s wearing an eye patch stealing Chesley’s crutches.

Hodsdon said he received a call at 4:05 p.m. from Walmart reporting the theft.

He said police had not identified the woman in the video. “An eye patch, that should stand out in town. So if anyone knows of someone who has an eye patch or has questions, give us a call. We’d like to help the victim.”

Mexico police can be contacted at 364-5686 or by messaging Hodsdon via the department’s Facebook site at www.facebook.com/pages/Mexico-ME-Police-Department/169214519763637?fref=ts.

Chesley said she wasn’t shown the video footage but was grateful to learn that police were trying to recover her crutches. 

“I was pretty upset and I had to go to the altar last night for prayer so I could forgive them for taking my crutches,” she said.

“It’s something that’s really hard to forgive, especially this time of the year, you know, when God died and went on the cross for us — for our sins,” she said. “I didn’t want to have a broken heart, so I went there for me to be able to forgive her for stealing my crutches.”

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