- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 24, 2014

MERIDIAN, Idaho (AP) - Jerry Gibson can’t see, but he’s walked to and from the detached garage he uses as a workshop so many times in the seven years he’s lived on West Idaho Avenue that he doesn’t need a cane.

Mostly, he feels where he is by the position of his feet, walking across a thin grass strip between his modest house and fence, across a patio and up three steps to the garage.

When he got inside his workshop Monday, his heart sank. He felt around and found that several tools - a 1 3/4-horsepower router, a Rigid brand drill and impact driver, and four nail guns - were missing.

The garage door wasn’t locked; Gibson had the padlock on the door, but not through the hasp.

“Whoever did it knew me,” said Gibson, who admitted initially he was pretty mad. “They knew I couldn’t see them do it.”

He reported the theft to the Meridian Police Department, but he’s not confident that the tools, which he valued at about $1,000, will ever be recovered. He figures they were stolen by someone looking to sell them for a few dollars to buy drugs.

“I hope they catch them,” he said. “That’s sad when you steal from someone who can’t see.”

The items did not turn up during a check of local pawn shops, said Meridian Deputy Police Chief Tracy Basterrechea.

“Unfortunately, every year around Christmastime it seems like something like this happens,” Basterrechea said. “It makes you angry that someone could be so callous.”

The thief left a table saw and a compound sliding miter saw, worth more money than the tools that were stolen. Gibson figures the person or people likely were on foot and couldn’t carry the saws. No one knows for sure, Basterrechea said.

On Tuesday, Gibson said he wouldn’t have minded so much if the theft had occurred in July. But three days before Christmas, it ruined his plans to make holiday benches for two of his young grandchildren and two neighborhood kids.

“I wanted to build these kids something and now I can’t,” Gibson said Tuesday. “I think someone who does something like that doesn’t have much of a conscience.”

Gibson had suffered vision problems from glaucoma since he was a kid, but an industrial accident at a sawmill when he was 22 left him blind and without a job.

He still works around power tools. With the table saw off, he puts his fingers over the opening in the table and slowly brings the blade up to the right height, feeling how far it rises above the piece of wood he wants to cut. He then moves the guide in place, plugs in the saw, turns it on and pushes the piece of wood across the spinning blade.

“I feel and keep my hands away from the blade. I still have all of my fingers, so I must be pretty careful,” Gibson said, laughing.

Gibson has been around woodworking most of his life. He started crafting benches out of cedar about six years ago. He sells some and gives others away as gifts.

“I don’t make a lot of money, but I take in a few bucks to supplement my Social Security,” he said.

Mostly, he’s sad that the children won’t have their holiday benches.

“The bench I was making for the young girl down the street won’t mean as much after Christmas as it would have on Christmas Day,” Gibson said.

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