Grand theft HME

Brazen pair makes off with thousands in equipment
Friday, April 27, 2018

AUSTIN, Texas – Provider Nick Murphey had a rude awakening recently, when he learned that two thieves had stolen a trailer containing tens of thousands of dollars in home medical equipment from his business.

“I have so many fires to put out every day, with competitive bidding and managed care plans—it’s a wonder I’m even in business today because of all the cuts,” said Murphey, co-owner of Kerring Group Home Medical. “The last thing I need is to be dealing with this.”

Security cameras caught the theft at 8 a.m. on April 15. A man and woman break the lock on the trailer, which was parked outside the business; the woman then directs the man, as he backs his battered, black Ford F-150 pickup truck up to the trailer and hitches to it; they climb back into the truck and drive off. From start to finish, the theft took less than four minutes.

It obviously wasn’t the thieves’ first time, said Murphey.

“She directed him like a champ,” he said. “It’s a shame. They may just want the trailer, but they don’t care what’s inside the trailer. When you steal a power chair, you’re stealing from the disabled in the community.”

Adding insult to injury: The woman had a prosthetic leg, said Murphey.

“You’ve got a prosthetic and you’re going to steal from a DME?” he said. “Unbelievable.”

The trailer contained a standing complex rehab power wheelchair, two Group 3 complex rehab power wheelchairs, a Jazzy power wheelchair, a lift chair, and a power seating system. Murphey estimates the retail value of the equipment and trailer at $112,000 and says it will probably cost him about $45,000 to replace it, though he’s hopeful insurance will cover most of it.

“We’re a small mom-and-pop,” he said. “We’re doing really well this year, but $45,000 is not a loss I can easily absorb.”

Murphey feels worse for the clients, who have been very understanding.

“It takes months for the Medicare process to happen,” he said. “Now they’ve got to wait longer. There’s two dummies out there with some bad karma. I feel confident we’re going to find them.”