By Rachel Holt

BOSTON (CBS) – It was a distressing morning for Stephanie and Scott DeGennaro after they realized their 5-year-old son Gabriel’s wheelchair was missing from their driveway in Peabody.

“It’s a customized chair for him that costs thousands and thousands of dollars,” said Stephanie.

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Stephanie works as a nurse at Franciscan Children’s Hospital, which is where she first met Gabriel in 2016 when he was a patient. After fostering him, Stephanie and her husband adopted the young boy in February  of 2020.

“Gabriel was born at 25 weeks. He weighed 1 lb., 5 oz. He has cerebral palsy from being born so early. He also has a tracheostomy and a feeding tube. And there was actually oxygen on the back of his wheelchair that got taken,” said Stephanie.

Stephanie and Scott DeGennaro’s son Gabriel. (Family Photo)

Stephanie was already on her way to work when her husband told her the wheelchair was missing around 7 a.m. She called police right away and posted online asking for help, hearing good news shortly after.

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“Immediately I had thought of someone who was a scrap metal person here in Peabody that I’ve seen the truck in the area. So I took a ride down there and I was able to find a wheelchair on the back of the truck with the child’s name stenciled on the wheelchair with an oxygen tank hanging off the back,” said Lt. Bill Cook with the Peabody Police Department.

“I just want to say thank you to the police and to everybody in the town and thanks for getting his wheelchair back so he can get back to living his life,” said Stephanie.

Cook said he was glad the story had a happy conclusion.

“I’m just happy that we were able to get it back for them. Scrap metal is the stuff on the curb, not up the driveway. It doesn’t give you the right to go into the driveway and take anything further up the driveway and trespass on people’s property,” said Cook.

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The Peabody Police Department is following up with an investigation into the person who took the wheelchair. They say it’s possible charges will be filed.

Rachel Holt