Thief Steals Deaf Four-Year-Old's Cochlear Implant

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By Elizabeth Chuck

Indiana police are hunting for a thief who stole a four-year-old's hearing device, just hours after the deaf boy received it.

Sora Coate, of Columbus, got a cochlear implant for his left ear last Tuesday, allowing him to hear in both ears for the first time. He already had an implant in his right ear.

The excitement for his family was short-lived, though, when overnight, someone broke into their car and stole a backpack that had both cochlear implants and other essential equipment inside of it.

"He was given the gift to be able to hear just earlier that day, and that night, they all got taken. My heart is broken for him," Sora's mom, Laura Coate, told NBC affiliate WTHR.

The thief also took a portable DVD player, Columbus police said.

"Most likely the person who did the theft had no idea what was inside the bag. The items would be of no use to them. They were fitted for the little boy," Lt. Matt Harris, a spokesman for the Columbus police department, told NBC News.

The cochlear implants and their parts cost about $10,000. Whoever stole them can return the items to the police department anonymously, Harris added.

"We're just asking that if someone knows or hears something to give us a call. We'd love to get this bag for this little boy," Harris said.

Laura Coate reiterated that.

"I don't need to know who you are. I don't need the backpack back, or the stuffed animal inside of it," she told the station. " I just want him to be able to hear."

Residents in the community and the medical office where Sora was fitted for his cochlear implants have offered to help raise money for him, Harris said.

And the company that makes the implants, Advanced Bionics, is looking into whether it can help Sora.

"We were saddened to learn that some of the products from Sora Coate's cochlear implant system were stolen. We are in touch with Sora's audiologist and are working on understanding the warranty status of his products," Cheryl McRae with Advanced Bionics told NBC News via email.