ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It's not exactly grand theft auto, but for a 94-year-old St. Petersburg man, losing his motorized tricycle has meant losing his ability to get around.
“I'm a prisoner here. I can't go anywhere,” said Richard Griffin.
At 94, it was already tough for Griffin to get around. But just over a week ago it got even tougher when someone stole his motorized tricycle from a CVS store on 6th Street South in St. Petersburg.
“Oh, that's my lifeline. I needed that,” said Griffin. “Every time I needed something I would jump on the trike and there I would go.”
Cops say Griffin did what he's supposed to. He locked the trike up. He set the brake before going inside.
But security video shows a man wearing a hoodie and backpack checking the trike out, working the handle bars, and even trying to roll it to a start. Which is not so easy, said Griffin.
“400 pounds. One person could not lift that thing. One person could not push it too long,” he said.
Police say without the key, the tricycle is useless. It can't be started or ridden and likely can't be pawned or sold. So they think it might have been abandoned or dumped somewhere nearby.
Griffin thinks someone loaded it in a truck, or hotwired it.
“He got rid of it already, if he's wise,” said the 94-year-old.
Unfortunately, this was the fourth motorized tricycle Griffin has had stolen in the past 15 years, ever since he had to stop driving.
And at $2,700 retail, instead of replacing it – yet again - he thinks maybe it's time to sell his house and move someplace where he doesn't need to be quite so independent.
“Sure, right now everybody's helping me,” said Griffin, “But, you know I can't expect that from them forever, you know?”
Mr. Griffin will be 95 in August. He says he has a daughter who also lives in Pinellas County, and if he does have to sell his house he would probably move into an apartment closer to her.
Detectives hope anyone who recognizes the man in the surveillance video or sees the tricycle will give them a call.
In the meantime, Mr. Griffin has a message for the man who stole his wheels. All three of them.
“I'd say be more good. And be nice to the old people, especially. Don't hurt people.”
Inquiries for donations have been overwhelming since the story aired on 10News and the St. Petersburg Police Department has set up arrangements to accept donations.
Anyone wishing to donate can send a check made out to SCLEC with Richard Griffin written in the memo line at the bottom of the check.
The address to send checks:
Suncoast Law Enforcement Charities
c/o St. Petersburg Police Department
1300 1st Avenue North
St. Petersburg, FL 33705
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