Mother of autistic boys tracks stolen car through social media
A WOMAN whose car was stolen in Bray while she was in a toy shop with two of her four autistic sons successfully harnessed the power of social media to track it down yesterday.
Shortly after 3pm on Thursday, Eileen O’Toole from Greystones,
Co Wicklow brought two of her boys, one of whom also has cerebral palsy, into Bray as a treat.
She parked and spent 20 minutes browsing in a toy shop. When she came out her car was gone. “My 12-year-old was hysterical. He needs his routine and it doesn’t take much to throw him,” she told The Irish Times. “We had quite a few meltdowns overnight too.”
An iPad, two computer games, school coats and her six-year-old son’s special needs buggy, which had been imported directly from the UK at a cost of more than €400, were also in the car.
What concerned Ms O’Toole most, however, was the disappearance of her eldest son’s complete medical records. They were in the car as she had just taken him for a medical assessment. “There were thousands of euro worth of notes in the folder. They would have been completely worthless to anyone but us,” she said.
Sketchy details of the theft were published on social networks yesterday morning. Her plight quickly became one of the top trending topics on Twitter and the appeal for information was retweeted hundreds of times by Irish users. Facebook users also took up the cause.
Shortly after 3pm yesterday, Ms O’Toole got a call saying the car had been found in a housing estate in Bray. Although the locks were badly damaged and much of the contents missing, the medical notes had been untouched.
She said someone who had seen details of the theft on a social network had contacted gardaí to report the sighting.
“A lot of parents of special needs children helped me spread the word online, and thank God they did. Someone saw it and called the guards. I will never give out about Facebook again. And nor will my husband.”
She has her car back, and the medical notes, but the special needs buggy is gone. “I needed this like a hole in the head,” she said.
“Two of my sons are in buggies and with one missing it is going to make going out really hard. The thief must have known it was for a child with special needs. They would have been very thick not to.”
However, late yesterday evening Mothercare Ireland stepped up to the plate. A director of the company heard about the woman’s misfortune and the company offered to source it for the family in the UK at no cost.