FRANKLIN SQUARE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Police are searching for the suspects who stole a van from a Long Island family that’s used to transport two disabled brothers.
CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports Nassau Police were able to track down the van after it was stolen from Kristen and Robert Gasperetti’s Franklin Square home Tuesday morning.
“Why would someone steal this car?” Kristen Gasperetti asked. “It’s a handicapped car.”
The specially-equipped van is a lifeline for 13-year-old Dylan and 20-year-old Bryan. The brothers share a rare genetic motor disorder called Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease that leaves them unable to speak. They are completely dependent on their $80,000 custom-fit van. It’s the only way the family of six can travel together.
“We have two children in wheelchairs – not just one. If you have one wheelchair it’s an easier fix. Everything is designed for one wheelchair, but everything for us has to be double,” Gasperetti said.
After a public plea and a flood of sightings, police came upon the stolen van in Valley Stream.
“I’m ecstatic. It’s worked out beautifully,” Gasperetti said.
The family was reunited with the van Wednesday. The van’s ignitition was damaged, but the vehicle was intact, and covered in fingerprint dust.
“Hopefully they develop a conscience and realized this is the wrong thing to take,” Robert Gasperetti said.
Police believe this may have been part of an uptick in Ford Econline thefts for discontinued parts.
“It’s a horrific act and we will do everything possible to apprehend the perpetrator and hopefully find forensic evidence in the van,” said Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter.
Neighbors are disgusted someone would steal the van and are hoping to see an arrest soon.
“If you can do something like that, they’re going to be punished. Karma is going to get them,” one neighbor said.
Another said, “It’s disgraceful, despicable.”
The Gasperetti brothers were the subject of a documentary called “Love Over Matter” about their disease.