‘They Have To Be Sick-Minded:’ Wheelchair Theft Victim Speaks On Brooklyn Crime

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The search is on for a thief who stole a motorized wheelchair off a Brooklyn sidewalk, leaving the owner stranded.

“I have multiple sclerosis, I can’t walk,” Margaret Leon told CBS2’s Dave Carlin. “The person that took it from me took a lot. Took my legs.”

According to police, the suspect discovered Leon’s unoccupied wheelchair near 86th and West 12th streets in Gravesend around 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Surveillance images from a nearby camera show the man walking up to the front of a real estate office on 86th Street. Then another camera shows the man standing next to the wheelchair, valued at around $3,000.

The suspect hopped onto the scooter and fled down the street, police said.

Police are searching for a man who they took off with a motorized wheelchair in Brooklyn on Nov. 12, 2016. (Credit :NYPD)

Police are searching for a man who they took off with a motorized wheelchair in Brooklyn on Nov. 12, 2016. (Credit :NYPD)

Leon, 36, was closing the real estate office where she works part-time. She put her wheelchair outside as she gathered her belongings.

“I leave my chair outside the real estate office for several minutes, and I come out and it’s gone — someone took it,” Leon told 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern. 

Her boss, Vince Blandino, was disgusted something like this could happen to someone like her.

“It’s the worst type of kind of crime that you can have,” he said. “She’s a terrific girl, very kind, couldn’t hurt a fly.”

Luckily, Leon had another wheelchair at her apartment, but said getting a replacement for her primary chair is going to be tricky.

“They can’t give me a chair because they’re switching insurance companies, so I have to wait until January or February to see if I’m eligible for a new wheelchair,” she said. “I’ll never leave it outside, I’ll have it near me at all times.”

She can walk very short distances, but without the motorized chair she said she is house-bound.

“They have to be sick-minded,” Leon said. “I don’t know who would steal a wheelchair.”

Surveillance images released by the NYPD (see above) show the unidentified male suspect wearing a zip-up hoodie, a black skull cap, blue jeans and black sneakers at the time of the incident.

In one image, the suspect appears to be smiling as he drives down the block.

Police hope to charge the man with grand larceny.

The NYPD is asking anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS or by logging on to their website at http://www.NYPDCrimeStoppers.com. Tips can remain anonymous.

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