Antonio Martin spent 30 years working as a boilermaker at Port Kembla's steelworks.
The job didn't do his body any favours - he permanently damaged three vertebrae after falling down some stairs while on the job.
But the skills came in handy when, as a 74-year-old pensioner with two hip replacements under his belt, it came time for Mr Martin to need a mobility scooter.
He bought two cheap ones and - with some help from a paid repairer - cobbled together a working one, using it most days to get to the shops and to medical appointments.
That was until last week, when the scooter went missing from Mr Martin's carport at Lake Windemere Caravan Park.
His friend Peter had slept on Mr Martin's couch that Tuesday night. In the early hours of Wednesday morning, an unseen thief slipped inside, plucked the wallet from sleeping Peter's pocket and collected the scooter key from a hook next to the sliding front door.
The two men were mystified the next morning.
"Peter said, 'Tony, where's my wallet?'. We moved furniture everywhere, looking for it. We went looking in garbage cans. Then I said, 'hey Peter, where's my scooter?'."
"Some friends had leant some money to me [to buy it], because I'm on the pension.
"I put a lot of work into it.
"When it disappeared, it broke my heart."
After a public appeal by Lake Illawarra Police District, Good Samaritans led police to the scooter, which was found abandoned nearby.
Mr Martin was called to the site to identify the property as his, but wasn't allowed to take it until it was forensically examined.
"Oh wow, I was so happy. I wanted to touch it, to take it, but there was no key."
Also still missing is the scooter's charger, and Mr Martin's cherished Paramatta Eels scarf.
He wonders why anyone would target him.
"They've got no heart. If someone pinched a car or breaks into a home, but a disabled person's scooter? For me that is too low. Not human."
Police are making arrangements to return the scooter to Mr Martin later this week.
They have charged two women over the thefts.
Police allege cousins Melissa and Tracey Butler, aged 39 and 35 respectively, entered Mr Martin's unlocked caravan about 3am last Wednesday before driving away on the scooter.
Both women were arrested at a home in Barrack Heights on Saturday and charged with aggravated break, enter and steal.
The women have yet to enter any pleas and will return to court later this month.
Meantime, Mr Martin said his ordeal had also exposed him to a lot of kindness.
"All my neighbours here have offered me help, if I had to go shopping or medical. They know I depend on my scooter."