A man is facing felony charges for stealing wheelchairs and other equipment from a YMCA in Cedar Rapids nearly six months ago. Thirty-nine-year-old Rick Allen Smith was arrested Wednesday and charged with first-degree theft and criminal mischief.
The roughly dozen wheelchairs belonged to SportAbility of Iowa, which provides sports and recreation opportunities for persons with disabilities. The wheelchairs were in a trailer taken from the Stoney Point YMCA parking lot in mid-December. Police found the missing trailer, empty, days later in Newhall in Benton County.
Cedar Rapids Police spokesperson Greg Buelow says Smith was arrested after some of the wheelchairs were recovered from his home, but most of the wheelchairs had been chopped up and destroyed. “There was speculation that some of the pieces were going to be sold as scrap metal or something, but I can’t verify that for sure,” Buelow said.
Since December, SportAbility has held several fundraisers and raised enough money to replace the stolen chairs by April. “Several people in the community were very concerned and disheartened that someone would take wheelchairs from an organization that is trying to do a good public service,” Buelow said. Smith is also charged with another count of first-degree theft as officers who made the arrest found him driving a vehicle that was reported stolen in Jones County.