Van stolen from woman who helps others with disabilities - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Van stolen from woman who helps others with disabilities

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HAMITLON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -- Theft is always wrong, but sometimes it's downright immoral. 

Someone stole the wheels right out from under a woman who's dedicated her life to broadening the horizons for others.

She' hoping her van will be found and her friends want the guilty prosecuted.

"It's just devastating.  I mean, it's my link to the outside world," says Jill Hindman.

Some thug made off with more than just a van on Monday.  Hindman's freedom was taken.   Her independence was stolen in broad daylight.

She'd just finished lunch at Fuji on Highway 153 when she discovered the theft.

"The doors were locked; the keys were in my purse.  I don't know if there was any glass in the parking lot because I was so upset, I didn't think to ask," says Hindman.

Hindman is a well-known consultant.  She travels around teaching employers and others that people with disabilities are plenty capable and with the right opportunities and the right modifications, they can thrive.

Her van was specially modified, which makes the theft even more troubling.

"It's a handicap accessible van with a lift and power doors and hand controls.  And I just need to get it back because, quite frankly, I can't afford to get either a used van or a new van," says Hindman.

It is a maroon `94 Dodge Caravan.  With its age, even insurance won't pay enough for another.

"It's not just affecting my personal life, but it's gonna impact my ability to help other people," says Hindman.

For now, Hindman is dependant upon friends who are more than willing to help out and who take personal offense to this crime.

"What I'd like to say to the person who took the van is that I have a big 200lb. orangutan.  He or she better watch out!" says friend Dr. Lyn Miles.  

Dr. Miles is an anthropologist at UTC.  She raised that orangutan and taught it sign language before it took up residence at Zoo Atlanta.

The van is a maroon `94 Dodge Caravan, if you have seen the van or know anything about the crime, call Chattanooga Police at 698-2525.

If you'd like to help Hindman get a replacement vehicle a fund has been set up, the Jill Fund, at Suntrust Bank.

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