What's with all this stealing lately?
We've been seeing a lot of news reports lately about people stealing wheelchair ramps for the metal. Apparently, part of what makes them so attractive to consumers ("Just as easily as these ramps are attached to houses they can be taken off," according to Liz's interview with Amramp founder Julian Gordon) makes them irresistible to thieves.
Most of the time, I like to put my faith in humanity, but these stories about people stealing ramps from the elderly and disabled and selling them as scrap metal call that into question.
So what's a provider to do? You sell your patient a power wheelchair and then a way for them to get into and out of their homes because you hope to make their lives a little easier—not because you want to make them a target for thieves.
I was talking about this problem with Mike Johnson from EZ-Access the other day, and he had a few suggestions on how to (hopefully) deter thieves.
1. Hurricane ties. Of course, these aren't as effective as barbed wire or an electric fence, but that extra step of untying these things might make enough of a ruckus to make thieves give up and go home.
2. Literally bolting them into cement. That's right, I'm talking about putting an eyebolt into some cement and using some metal cable to tie it to your driveway. Again, not perfect but definitely harder to steal.
3. Hide the ramp. If it's just as easy for users to access their homes from the front or the side, stick the ramp over there. That way, it's not hanging out on your front lawn like free metal for anyone with a truck to haul away.
Meanwhile, back in Maine (where HME News World HQ is located), we've had a rash of pharmacy robberies. We've had as many in the first half of this year as we did all of 2011—23. Now, I know you big city folk might think it's not a big crime wave compared to robberies in other areas of the country, but we tend to think of Maine as a safe place. People in this state leave their cars and houses unlocked—and now we have to worry about thieves at the pharmacy? I don't want to be watching for hooded, masked figures as I'm picking up my new bottle of Across the Universe nail polish or greeting cards.
Anyway, it made me ponder on my ride in this morning whether HME providers ever have to worry about theft. You guys aren't selling narcotics, and it's hard to sneak a power wheelchair under your raincoat, but still. Any experiences/advice with theft? Feel free to leave comments.