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Outrage: Thief steals disabled child's wheelchair (Updated)

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Philadelphia may technically be the “city of brotherly love,” but the theft of a disabled child’s wheelchair two days after Thanksgiving suggests that not everyone in town has that loving feeling.

Ten-year-old Dominic Pico suffers from a rare genetic disorder. Without the chair, he is more or less homebound.

His mother, Heather, who is raising Dominic alone, told FOX affiliate WTXF-TV that the chair was stolen from her van. The vehicle was parked outside the family's home in South Philadelphia on Saturday.

"My heart just dropped," the single mom is quoted as saying. "That's our main means of getting him out of the house."

The lightweight, portable wheelchair reportedly costs more than $1,700, but Pico insists “it's not even the value of the wheelchair—it's what it represents to my son.”

She issued a plea on Monday to whoever stole the chair:

Please just return it … Drop it off on the corner, drop it off at a firehouse. I don't care where you drop it off, just drop it off somewhere where they can return it to me for my son.

Dominic has a more substantial wheelchair that he uses to get around school, but FOX reports it is much heavier and requires a motorized lift to get it into and out of vehicles.

The lighter stolen chair, by contrast, affords mobility that in past years has allowed Heather Pico to take Dominic to experience the sights and sounds of Christmas, such as the city hall tree lighting. Talk about your Grinches!

UPDATE: Several readers wrote to ask about starting a collection to replace the missing wheelchair. I am pleased to report that viewers of station WTXF, which aired the story earlier, have already rallied on behalf of the Pico family, opening their hearts and pocketbooks. As a result, Dominic will be receiving his new chair today.

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