Crime Prevention Corner - Medical mobility devices can become lost, stolen

Ron Craig, Crime Prevention/Community Policing Officer

        Keeping track of mobility-related medical equipment is important, especially when the high cost of such items is considered. These items are normally categorized as “durable medical equipment.”
        If you have high priced items like wheelchairs, walkers, and canes, you know they can be expensive, sometimes running into the hundreds of dollars or more. While some medical insurance policies may cover all or part of the cost of the initial purchase of these items, many may be responsible for replacing lost or stolen equipment.
        One common occurrence is to lose medical equipment while at a medical facility such as a hospital, doctor’s office, or places where x-rays and other diagnostic testing takes place.
        These situations may involve someone mistakenly taking the equipment thinking it is theirs or that it belongs to the facility and is there for anyone’s temporary use. This may be avoided by clearly marking the equipment with a unique identifier. Avoid using names and social security numbers, however.
        It also occurs when someone less scrupulous just wants an expensive piece of gear at no cost. Of course, this is considered theft and, depending on the value of the item, could be considered a felony. Ohio revised code also considers any theft from an elderly or disabled person a felony, regardless of the item’s worth.
        Having the equipment clearly marked will help in the possible recovery of the equipment and will make it more difficult for someone to claim they took the item by mistake.
        More and more elderly and disabled people are buying expensive rolling walkers. These handy devices can fold up for easy storage, but this feature can also make them easier to steal.
        Many of these devices also have seats that come in handy when the person gets tired or needs to stay in one spot for a while.
        Like other medical equipment, rolling walkers cost several hundreds of dollars and can run more than a thousand dollars. Certainly not cheap to replace.
        At the top of the list of mobility equipment are electric wheelchairs. While they can cost thousands of dollars to buy, their worth to the owner cannot be underestimated. They can mean the difference between someone being able to enjoy a part of life and not being able to venture outside the home.
        Prevention of loss is key here. This can be accomplished by having someone go with you to medical appointments in which you may be separated from the item. Have that person hold onto the item or have them stay with it.
        In the case of a wheelchair or rolling walker, consider a devise to immobilize the equipment, such as a lock.
        Those who own these types of medical equipment should keep a copy of the receipt and any paperwork that comes with it. If the item is lost or stolen, it will provide proof of purchase and may help in the recovery of the item.
        If these items do not have a serial number engraved on them, buy a tool to engrave a unique identifier on it. Again, avoid using names, social security numbers, and phone numbers to protect yourself against possible identity theft. These vibrating engraving tools are inexpensive and are available at just about any hardware or home improvement retailer.
        If you cannot comprehend the importance of these medical mobility devices, think about any time you did not have a car available to you to go where you wanted to go.
        Remembering such incidents may help you realize how important these items are to someone with a mobility impairment.
        This article is a public service from the Crime Prevention Division of the Lake Township Police Department. Township residents may obtain further information on crime prevention and public safety topics by contacting Ron Craig, crime prevention specialist/community policing officer, at 419-481-6354.


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