Roberto Da Silva Ribeiro has spent his life overcoming obstacles — he’s non-verbal, deaf and has mobility issues, but through it all he’s shown fierce independence that was until someone severed his only lifeline outside of the Hamilton apartment building he calls home.
“I feel hopelessly stuck, facing starvation, and unable to leave my apartment,” Da Silva Ribeiro told Global News through a tablet.
Hamilton police are looking for the man’s adult tricycle that was reported stolen on Oct. 28 and police said they believe the trike, which belongs to a man with “limited mobility,” was targeted.
“The bike was actually parked in the underground parking. It had two locks on it,” explained Const. Lorraine Edwards.
“The victim did everything right. Unfortunately it was targeted. I think the individual knew the bike was there and came equipped and ready to remove the locks.”
Police said it’s believed the suspect slipped through the garage doors behind a vehicle at Olympia Apartments at 150 Charlton Ave., adding the theft caught on surveillance video.
“He personally feels attacked. I’m personally upset about it,” explained Alexander Da Silva Riberio, the nephew of the victim.
“It’s what he used to get around and someone took that from him. I don’t know why.
“It’s a hard life sometimes, especially for certain people and you know we try to grasp onto as much independence we can and that can make a big difference on how someone looks at the world. So if that gets taken from them, they have a hard time coping with that.”
While police search for the trike, the community is rallying behind the man. A GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign was launched in an effort to help him purchase a new bike. Residents offered to take Roberto to appointments and to get groceries.
Building manager Ken Milligan called the theft “devastating” and said people want to show their support.
“Anger at first — you know that a person would come into the building, sneak in as a car was going in the garage and steal something from a resident and when we found what was stolen and from whom it was heartbreak,” he said.
Meanwhile, police would like to speak to anyone who may know anything about the theft as they’re investigating this as a criminal matter and are looking to lay charges. Edwards also expressed appreciation to community members for stepping up.
“We thank everyone for their outreach. It’s been quite overwhelming and heartwarming to see people out there are caring for one another,” she said.