When Diane Linville is on her feet for more than 30 seconds, the pain from her swollen, stiff legs forces her to sit.
For the past five years, she has relied on an oversized motorized scooter to get around. That is until Oct. 19, when thieves stole the 600-pound scooter from the van parked in the driveway of her west Modesto home.
"Of course this is depressing," said the 54-year-old woman, who lives near Robertson Road Park. Small things like going for a ride in the park are "the things that make my life bright."
Linville said she can't fit in standard wheelchairs and scooters because her legs are four times their normal size and her knees are too stiff to bend — complications from late-stage lymphedema, which causes fluid buildup in her legs. She developed the disorder after surgery 23 years ago damaged her lymph system.
Even worse news, Linville said, is that her insurer, Kaiser Permanente, is telling her it's unlikely it will replace the scooter because it doesn't replace lost or stolen medical equipment.
Linville said she intends to file a claim with Kaiser once she receives a copy of her police report.
The night of the theft, the scooter was inside her caregiver's van, which was parked close enough to the garage to run an extension cord from the garage to charge the scooter for the next day's activities.
A small side window in the van was cracked just enough for the extension cord to pass through. Paula Shaw, Linville's live-in caregiver for the past 20 years, said the van was locked and all the other windows rolled up tight.
The keys to the scooter also were in the van, left in a metal box hidden on the van's floorboard. Shaw, 63, said that when she went out the next morning, the van's side doors were open and the scooter was gone.
Linville and Shaw said they often left the scooter in the van in the driveway. They said there's no room in the garage to park the van.
Linville said the forest green scooter looks like a golf cart, except it has a black vinyl seat for one person and a tiller, or turning bar, instead of a steering wheel. She said her scooter has a black mesh basket on the tiller and "ConvaQuip 6500" printed in white letters on the back.
Shaw has posted fliers in the neighborhood and drives around each morning looking for the scooter or clues.
"You just don't think someone is going to take an item like that," Linville said. "But these days, with the economy, people are desperate. But that doesn't make it right."
Police say anyone with information about this theft can call Crime Stoppers at 521-4636.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2316.