Man pleads for return of his handicap modified car

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A Raleigh man with a disability pleads for the return of his specially equipped car, which was stolen.

Mike Leary moved into his east Raleigh home eight years ago. Five years after that, he lost feeling in the lower half of his body.

His handicap modified car is his lifeline to the world. And sometime Tuesday night, someone stole Leary's lifeline -- right out of his carport.

"I need my car, so whoever took it, you know, please man, I need it back," Leary said.

His blue Suzuki is not just any car. It's handicap modified with hand controls for the gas and brakes. It's the only car this single dad can drive -- to get his two boys to school, pick up groceries and get to his new job at Home Depot.

"I'm screwed without it, absolutely," Leary said. "I don't how I'll be able to keep my job. It's just frustrating to have something when I've got so little left."

This marks another hurdle in what have been a rough last few years for Leary.

In the mid-1990s, he founded La Conexion, Raleigh's first Spanish-language newspaper.

He sold it for a modest profit in 2008 and turned to a new career in real estate, only to be crushed by the Great Recession.

And three years ago, a rare nerve condition called CIDP, or chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, caused paralysis in his lower body.

Wednesday morning, his son delivered the bad news from the carport.

"My son came running out here to go running, and that what he found was nothing," Leary said. "And said, 'Papa, where's the car?' I was, you know, what do you mean where's the car? That's not funny!"

It was no joke and now Leary is wondering whether he was targeted because of his condition.

For now, Leary will rely on taxi cabs and the city's handicap bus service. Both are more expensive options than his old car.

If you have any information, call Raleigh Police at 919-996-3335

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