Heartless thieves have sunk to a new low: stealing a wheelchair belonging to a Vancouver woman with severe disabilities.

The thieves took the chair off Jillian McIntosh's front porch Thursday night, stranding her at home until her family can find a replacement.

"Her chair is her life. Her activity is going out and being pushed around, or going to the swimming pool," said her mom Leslie. "It's an extension of her legs and her arms and it's all-encompassing in her life. It's a huge loss not to have that chair."

She pleaded for the person who has it to bring it back.

"Good luck if you really needed it, God bless you. But please bring it back. My daughter needs it," Leslie said.

Jillian is 26 but has the mind of a child, because of severe brain damage and other major medical issues she has had since birth.

She can't speak but she can show emotion, and photos show her enjoying trips to the Vancouver Aquarium.

The chair is a custom-built Helio Ultralight Manual chair, which costs about $6,000 to buy and get custom-fit to her needs.

It was hidden behind a tree on the front porch of the family's house near the Cambie Village last night, Leslie said. It's not visible from the street and it's where the family has put it for years.

Besides, said Leslie, she never thought anyone would stoop this low.

"I had this idea that no one would steal a wheelchair, but they did," she said. "It was extremely upsetting."

It's not about the money, she said, it's about the feeling of being "violated." The family will get a temporary chair that they will have to rent, but it won't be custom-fit. 

They'll have to wait about a year and a half before they can get a new one from the government, she said.

Jane Dyson of Disability Alliance B.C. said it's very rare for a thief to steal a wheelchair.

"It's absolutely shocking that someone could be so cruel and heartless," she said.