The power of public pressure may be behind the return of a stolen wheelchair to a six-year-old Whangārei boy.

The yellow-coloured wheelchair was in the boot of a car which was stolen from the driveway of a Raumanga home in Raumanga Heights Dr early yesterday.

The car, a Subaru Legacy Lancaster, was found ditched on nearby Tauroa St later in the morning but minus the wheelchair that was young Drew Mita-Tepania's main mode of transport as he is unable to walk.

However a story on the Northern Advocate's website yesterday and posts on facebook alerting people to the theft helped with the return of the wheelchair in the afternoon.


Mum Joyce Tepania said her sister Fiona had been on her way to the Otaika shops when she was approached by a woman who said her children had found the wheelchair and she had it in her car.

To the relief of the family they had the wheelchair back about 5.30pm.

But Joyce said her and other family members had scoured the area and bush in Tauroa St where the car was found but had found nothing.

She suspected the publicity had pricked someone's conscience and they had gone back to the scene and dumped the wheelchair.

"They were either scared or feeling guilty," Joyce said today.

"We have the chair back but a booster foam pad and the harness that holds him in are still missing."

Also remaining missing was the disabled parking permit badge that was ripped off the car windscreen.

Joyce had been overwhelmed by the public support and offers of help including wheelchairs.


The Northern Advocate had also received offers of help from readers of replacement wheelchairs.

A givealittle page initially started to help fund another wheelchair will now be used to fix the family car that was damaged and had the ignition barrell ripped out. Joyce had the car for nine years but it was not insured.