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Disabled girl targeted, communication device stolen
EVANSTON, Ohio (Angela Ingram) -- Sometimes a thief steals more than just your belongings.
In the case of a 12-year-old disabled girl, what was stolen was the one thing that allows her to interact with other people. Sarah Johnson's iPad was stolen March 12th. That iPad has a special app that is basically her lifeline.
Teachers at Sarah's school sent a note saying the device was gone. Her mother thinks whoever took it may not have realized how important it is for her daughter. Sarah doesn't use the iPad to play games, she uses it to learn and communicate with the outside world.
Sarah Johnson isn't able to talk to her mother. She has a condition called Pitts-Hopkins Syndrome and uses an iPad with a special app on it to communicate.
Her mother tells us, "It has a screen with multiple squares and you assign the squares to different choices, so you know, one says yes and one says no and it's 'I want to play' or 'read a book.'"
In mid-March Sarah's iPad went missing. Nicole Dyehouse thought it was just left at Sarah's school, Academy of World Languages.
"And when she came back the next night it was still gone and there was a note in the notebook saying it hadn't made it to school," Dyehouse said.
Police believe someone took advantage of the fact that Sarah cannot speak and stole the iPad from her backpack.
Detective Charles Zopfi of the Cincinnati Police Department said, "This is kind of her lifeline to the outside world to be able to tell mom, 'I love you.' To tell a teacher the answer to a question. It's just her form of communication."
"To target a kid much less a kids who you know can't defend themselves in anyway. It just makes me very sad," Zopfi continued.
The touch chat app that was on Sarah's iPad costs between 150 and 300 dollars. It's a black iPad 2 with no data plan and it was in a blue and green paisley Vera Bradley case. The serial number on the device is: DMPFXUDDDFHW.
Detective Zopfi says his priority is getting the communication tool back to Sarah, "If anybody knows where this is or wants to turn it in, they can call me here personally at District two. I will go anywhere in the county even out of the county to pick this laptop up or this iPad up. No questions asked."
A family friend loaned an iPad to Sarah but the special app has not transferred properly to the device so Sarah still can't use it to communicate. If you have any information that can help police find Sarah's communication device call our partners at Crime Stoppers. The number is 352-3040.
Again, the serial number on the device is: DMPFXUDDDFHW.
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