Heartless thieves pinch wheel from disabled woman’s car

121 Wheel Stolen
121 Wheel Stolen
Brendan Rees

An elderly woman has been left shocked and disgusted after a wheel was stolen from her car while she was parked in a disabled space in Southbank.

Hanah Lilja parked her car on Dodds St about 9.45 am on July 14 before returning an hour later to make the awful discovery.

Ms Lilja, who has a mobility condition, said she didn’t realise the wheel was missing at first until attempting to reverse her car and feeling like she had hit a bump.  

But after establishing there was no car behind her, she got out to investigate and found the rear right wheel including the rim and tyre of her Lexus sedan was missing with a piece of wood “stuffed underneath”.

“I got out of the car and was absolutely dumbfounded. It’s just ridiculous,” she said.

The 75-year-old said she parked in the same spot when visiting her friend in Southbank and had never had a problem as she displayed her disability parking permit.

However, after later learning the two rear wheels of her car were an aftermarket model and unable to be sourced through Lexus, she suspected the thieves had specifically targeted her car.

“They were very well organised. They knew exactly what they were looking for,” she said.

“If someone saw it, they probably thought they were fixing a puncture or some problem with the wheel.”

Ms Lilja said she reported the incident to police and noted to the call-taker that there was a CCTV camera nearby. She was also willing to hand over photos she took at the scene and the piece of wood, neither of which police had as yet asked for. 

When she recently called police for an update, she said disappointedly, “it just didn’t sound like they did anything”.

Ms Lilja said she called her roadside assistance company which fitted her spare tyre to her car so she could drive home.

Luckily her son, who works in the tyre and wheel industry, was able to find four new rims with lock nuts for her 2008 model car so the theft “doesn’t happen again”.

Ms Lilja said she wanted to share her story to not only call out the behaviour but to also make others aware and prevent it from happening again. She also hoped anyone with information may be able to assist police.

“A crime is a crime. It’s just absolutely disgusting that someone would do something like this.”

A Victoria Police spokesperson confirmed Southbank police were investigating the theft. •


Caption: Hanah Lilja was shocked after finding a wheel was missing from her car.

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