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Mother of terminally ill boy, 13, makes plea after ‘lifeline’ van stolen

The mother of a 13-year-old terminally ill boy has pleaded for help to find her son’s modified van which is his “lifeline” in his remaining days.

Elijah Cariazo, who was born with a rare muscular condition called myotubular myopathy which makes it difficult for him to breathe and swallow, depends on the vehicle to travel, carry bulky medical equipment and get to hospital appointments.

The Metropolitan Police said that “time is of the essence” after the converted grey Ford Transit Custom was stolen from outside the family home in Hackney, east London, in the early hours of Tuesday.

Officers are treating the theft with “particular concern”.

Elijah’s mother Onessa said: “I am appealing to everyone to keep an eye out for Elijah’s lifeline, this is not just a vehicle, it is our road to freedom.

Elijah Cariazo is terminally ill (Metropolitan Police/PA)
Elijah Cariazo is terminally ill (Metropolitan Police/PA)

“Without it, our poor boy cannot see in his final days. Every day is an extension, and we thank God.

“This vehicle cannot be easily replaced and it is his 14th birthday in a few short days.

“We had hoped to take him away with his medical team to enjoy the surroundings of the countryside which he loves so much.”

Elijah’s condition has deteriorated and his family were due to use the van to go on holiday over the Easter weekend.

The vehicle, which took nine months to fully customise, was stolen on Tuesday at around 2.17am.

CCTV footage shows two men breaking into it outside the family’s house on Loanda Close before turning left on to Clarissa Street and left again on to Lee Street towards the A10 Kingsland Road, police said.

The suspects are two white men, approximately 5ft 10in and of slim build. They were wearing black tracksuits and one carried a rucksack.

The van has one missing hubcap on the rear right-hand side and has a distinctive sticker for the wheelchair ramp on the back doors.

Elijah’s mother added: “If you see a vehicle of this colour parked up unattended or don’t recognise it, please report it to the police. It may be nothing but we need everyone to keep their eyes peeled and thank them in advance. This means so much to our family.”

Sergeant Adam Hunter, of the Haggerston Safer Neighbourhood team, said: “The Met takes every theft seriously but this case is of particular concern to us due to the type of vehicle and the time-sensitive nature of the investigation.

“Officers are based in the area and are well known within the community.

“They are conducting house-to-house enquiries and trawling through hours of CCTV footage to track down the van but time is of the essence so we are appealing to the public for any information they may have.”

Police say anyone with any information should call 101 quoting 01/141980/24.

To remain anonymous, they could contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.