Metro Vancouver Transit Police are on the hunt for a woman who allegedly stole a cell phone from a man with physical disabilities while on board a bus in Surrey.
Nathan Saluna, who is 19 years old and uses a wheelchair, was on the 96 B-Line bus on his way to Kwantlen Polytechnic University around 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 12 when the theft happened.
As the bus stopped in the area of 80th Avenue and King George Boulevard, Saluna says a woman approached him and grabbed onto his cell phone, which he was holding in front of him.
Saluna, who is paralyzed in one hand, was unable to hold onto the phone. After a brief struggle, the woman then yanked the phone away and stepped off the bus.
Saluna said he tried to call for help, but the bus driver didn’t hear him.
“I had questions,” he said. “Like, what are you trying to do to me?”
Transit police spokesperson Sgt. Clint Hampton noted the victim is enrolled at Kwantlen to improve his independence and job skills, and his larger-sized iPhone 6S “meant a great deal to him” as it made reading and texting easier.
“It is extremely troubling and hard to understand what would lead someone to commit an act like this,” Hampton said.
Hampton added the officers who investigated the theft helped pay off the outstanding debt on the stolen phone so the man could buy a new one.
Saluna says getting a new phone will help him communicate with his mother, who is his primary caretaker, and allow him to continue his schooling.
“I was very happy,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting that kind of help.”
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His mother Dina said she was also taken aback by the officers’ generosity, while adding she doesn’t feel anger towards the suspect
“People don’t have money and are really desperate to do something,” she said. “But yeah, we forgive her and what she did to my son.”
Police are still searching for the woman, who is described as a Caucasian, of undetermined age, roughly five-foot-four to five-foot-five tall with a slim build and blonde hair. She was wearing a brown hoodie with green designs, brown-green running tights and green running shoes.
Anyone who recognizes the suspect, witnessed the incident, or has any information helpful to investigators is asked to contact Metro Vancouver Transit Police.
—With files from Grace Ke