Tools stolen from paralyzed dad’s new home

Thieves stole tools from volunteers building a handicapped-accessible home for Robert Roll. (Oct. 9, 2017)


CONSTANTINE, Mich. (WOOD) — Police in Constantine are trying to track down the thief or thieves who robbed a home construction site. Who they stole from makes the case even worse.

The crooks took tools of workers who are volunteering to build a new house for a paralyzed single father.

In July 2015 at Sweetland Stadium in Constantine, Robert Roll’s life changed forever. The former football star was playing in an alumni game when he took a helmet-to-helmet hit that broke his neck. The injury left Roll paralyzed from the chest down.

“(That) changes someone’s whole procedure in life, how they do things,” Roll’s close friend, Scott Sampson, told 24 Hour News 8 on Monday.

Since the injury, the community has rallied around Roll and his young daughter Melody. They’ve held 5Ks, T-shirts sales and bake sales to raise money. The goal is to get Roll and his daughter out of their small apartment and into a fully customized home along the St. Joseph River.

“The whole idea is to get him and his daughter into a place that’s suitable for him and suitable for her,” Sampson said.

Sampson said local roofers, electricians, plumbers and more have donated their time and resources to make the project possible.

“His bathroom is actually handicapped-accessible so he can wheel his wheelchair in,” Sampson showed 24 Hour News 8 while walking through the unfinished home Monday.

Thieves stole tools from volunteers building a handicapped-accessible home for Robert Roll. (Oct. 9, 2017)

On Friday, one of the volunteer workers noticed something was wrong. All the tools that had been donated and stored away at the site were gone. It didn’t take long to discover that thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment had been stolen in the middle of the night.

“They grabbed ladders and framing guns and saws and basically anything they can pick up and carry,” Sampson said.

He called police. An officer snapped photos of shoe prints and tire tracks at the site. A neighbor’s security camera captured a dark photo of what’s believed to be the crook’s truck. It was seen around 4 a.m. Friday. That appears to be all the evidence available.

Sampson said it’s not about the dollar value of the stolen items. He said Roll needs this home.

“It’s more about you’re stealing from someone that it’s kind of a charity thing that we’re doing here,” Sampson said.

The workers aren’t letting the theft stop them. They returned over the weekend with more tools to make sure Roll’s new home gets finished.

“They see a person that’s in need and they step right up without any questions,” Sampson said of the workers.

After the theft, workers have stopped leaving their tools at the site overnight.

Sampson said they still hope to have the home ready for Roll and his daughter by Christmas.

If you know anything about the thefts, call Constantine police at 269.435.4355. If you’d like to help the Rolls, you can visit the Rollstrong Facebook page or email wendymc2003@yahoo.com.