12 December 2022

Despair over stolen car turns to happiest Christmas

| John Thistleton
Start the conversation

Alicia Hull and friend Rechelle Gray say they are still on cloud nine thanks to Goulburn Ford replacing Alicia’s stolen car. The new Subaru is big enough for the family of five. Photo: John Thistleton.

Five-year-old Archy’s birthday present in August was a pair of cowboy boots. He loved them, becoming so attached he left them in the family car to take everywhere with him.

In the early hours of Friday morning, 2 December, thieves prised open the kitchen window that had been painted shut in Archy’s family’s rented home in central Goulburn. They stole the keys to his mother Alicia Hull’s Ford Territory, drove it to Wagga Wagga and burned it, destroying the mother-of-four’s baby seats, school bags, her cash, wallet, bank cards, Medicare cards, medical scripts and Christmas presents.

Later in the morning Alicia, still half asleep, went outside looking for her car.

“I was just shocked,” she said. “Absolutely shocked that it was gone. I rang my mum and she came straight here. I called the police, they came within 10 minutes, I think.”

READ ALSO Keeping Goulburn’s car giveaway on the road

Three of Alicia’s children are foster care kids with special needs, magnifying her loss.

Along with Archy’s cowboy boots, his favourite truck, cars and books had gone. When he started looking for his boots she had to break the bad news.

“He absolutely lost it,” she said.

Five days later her friend Rechelle Gray asked Daniel’s Auto Group in Goulburn for $500 for her GoFundMe appeal aimed at raising $10,000 for a replacement car. Dealer principal Daniel Basalamah rang her back, questioned her a little then announced he had a new Subaru Tribeca with seven seats for Alicia.

Alicia in her kitchen where thieves gained access recently from the kitchen window on the right. The car keys were on the kitchen bench. Photo: John Thistleton.

Tears of elation flowed all-round.

“To know Alicia and how she copes daily is a privilege for me,” Rechelle said. “A lot of people assume because she is a foster carer she gets a ridiculous amount of money which is absolutely not the case. And her car was not insured, she could not afford that.”

Alicia’s children are 13, 11, six and five. “When I came home with the new car they were over the moon with excitement,” she said.

“We went out for dinner that night, they got to go for a drive, fiddling with everything in the car, sunroof, DV player which we didn’t have in the other car,” Alicia said.

READ ALSO Goulburn forum looks towards a greener future

Rechelle, who has two children, including one with special needs, met Alicia two years ago through their mutual interest in horses. “It’s one of those friendships where we just clicked,” she said. “I don’t think I could part with her in my life now,” she said. “Having children with special needs made it harder to form friendships.”

Rechelle said Daniel Basalamah was not after publicity. “He was so thankful he was in a position to help out,” she said. “He said he was glad he had a car on the lot to give Alicia, not any car, the car he gave her is specifically for her needs. We could not have asked for better.”

Rechelle told Mr Basalamah he had changed Alicia and her family’s life.

Police are yet to arrest anyone for the theft and destruction of Alicia’s previous car.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.