Veteran's missing walker: theft or misunderstanding?

KILGORE, TX (KLTV) - By Bob Hallmark - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email | Twitter

KILGORE, TX (KLTV) - Workers at one East Texas Brookshire's store are trying to determine who shopped at their location and made off with a walker belonging to a Vietnam veteran.

It happened Wednesday afternoon at the Kilgore Brookshire's location on Highway 42 and Main Street.

Does the video show a theft or is it a case of misunderstanding?

"I was just totally blown away," said Fred Niles. "Really devastated and more in shock than anything else like because I knew exactly where I put it just totally amazed me that somebody would take it."

Vietnam veteran Fred Niles, 59, had gone into the Kilgore Brookshire's to shop, leaving his walker and getting into a courtesy power chair. When he was done he was shocked to discover someone had stolen his walker.

"The fact that was funny to me is that anybody would think about doing that," said Niles. "You've got to be kidding. This just didn't happen."

Store video surveillance footage shows an employee moved the walker to help another customer use a power chair. When that man brought the store power chair back, he helped himself to Niles' walker and left the store, apparently bundling it into his SUV after an employee helped him with his groceries.

"[They] looked at all the video and determined what happened," said Niles.

Police reviewed the video and believe the man might have assumed it was a courtesy walker from Brookshire's. It is still not much solace for Niles.

"That sounds pretty far out to me," he said. "Really, I've never known of any store ever that had complimentary walkers...I hope that he gets good use out of it and that it helps him."

The heavy-duty walker is valued at about $300, and already several groups have contacted Niles about replacing it for him.

Niles is also the pastor of a Presbyterian church in King's Court, Tennessee, and is in Kansas now for his son's wedding.

Copyright 2010 KLTV. All rights reserved.