When James “Coz” Koschmann went into his garage Thursday morning to go to work, he discovered his van had been stolen from his home on Panda Drive in Los Lunas.
Koschmann’s vehicle, a 1985 beige Dodge Caravan equipped with hand controls connected to the brake and gas pedals, was gone. Where his van normally sat in the garage was now just an empty space.
The Los Lunas man has been disabled since 1978 when he broke his neck diving into a river near Needles, Calif. Although he’s not completely paralyzed, Koschmann needs a vehicle that he can easily get his wheelchair into and out of.
“I woke up and it was just like any other day,” he said. “I got ready for work and went into the garage. The first thing I noticed was that the garage door was open. Then I realized that my car wasn’t there.”
Along with the van, whoever broke into Koschmann’s garage also stole three used computers and a piece of luggage. But Koschmann’s troubles didn’t end there.
“I had left my keys in the car because I thought they were safe in my garage,” he said. “I also had my checkbook and wallet in the car.”
Immediately after he realized what had happened, he called his employer, the Valencia County News-Bulletin, to let his supervisor know what occurred and that he was “going to be late.” Koschmann then called the police to report the theft and his creditors to report his credit cards as stolen. He also called his bank to freeze his checking account.
“I told the police what had happened and that I found the garage door open and the car gone,” he said. “They told me that, a few years ago, there had been a rash of thefts of vehicles with hand controls.”
Koschmann doesn’t know if his vehicle was stolen because of its unusual equipment or if it was just a random theft.
“I can’t imagine why someone would want to steal a 17-year-old car with more than 100,000 miles on it,” he said. “It’s not even pretty anymore; it’s got dings all over it.”
He now needs to find a new van and get it outfitted with the special equipment he needs in order to drive it. In the meantime, Koschmann is relying on friends and family to take him anyplace he needs to go.
“The worst part about it is having to rely on other people to help me get around,” Koschmann said. “And, of course, the expense of buying a new van and having it equipped. I just hope whoever stole my van will realize how they’ve screwed up my life.”
If anyone has information about the stolen van, contact the Los Lunas Police Department at 865-9130.
Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.