A disabled woman who had been driving cross country in her customized RV had her vehicle stolen sometime between Christmas Eve and Christmas day while visiting friends in Woodland Hills.
Los Angeles was Jill Silverthorne’s last stop on her way home to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Silverthorne said it was always her dream to travel when she retired, but rheumatoid arthritis and a complicated knee replacement made it a challenge.
It took her years of saving and searching before finally coming across a handicap-accessible RV in Everette, Washington. It had all the necessary adaptations to the brakes and the steering wheel. It even included a wheelchair lift.
Silverthorn made the deal online, flew up to get the vehicle and started her journey driving cross country. She headed south, made her way through Portland, Oregon, and even weathered a major storm in the Central Coast.
“I finally made it to the L.A. area and was delighted to have proved to myself that I could do it, because I wasn’t entirely sure when I left,” Silverthorne said. “This is a big undertaking for a disabled woman.”
The retiree spent Christmas Eve at a friend’s house in Woodland Hills, her RV parked right outside. At some point that night, it was stolen along with her electric wheelchair and many of her belongings.
“My stomach leaped up into my throat and still, every now and again, I get that feeling like I’m going over a rollercoaster, remembering what has happened,” she said.
Silverthorne, who is now relying solely on her walker to get around, said the RV gave her the flexibility and freedom she’d been craving. She’d taken lots of pictures along the way, hoping to inspire others with physical limitations.
“You have to believe, no, I can’t do everything that I once did, but I can do more than I can get done in a lifetime. You just do it differently,” she said.
For now, though, those goals are on hold. Even if her insurance pays out a little money for the stolen RV, the van was already outfitted for her special needs, which will be difficult and costly to duplicate in another vehicle.
So, Silverthorne has postponed her trip home and is hoping that someone recognizes her RV and returns it.
“And then…with a little help and a little luck for the new year, it’ll come back to me without too much damage,” she said.
While the Los Angeles Police Department is on the case, Silverthorne’s family started a GoFundMe Campaign to help replace some of the stolen items inside the RV, for those who wish to donate.