Customized Wheelchair Was Stolen, Allegedly By Neighborhood Teens

FLOWER HILL, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island man this weekend was still waiting for his customized wheelchair to be repaired, after it was stolen and damaged one month ago.

As WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported, it has been a struggle for Vinny Pinello the past few weeks, since he got his wheelchair stolen a month ago from his home in Flower Hill, Long Island.

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Two 14-year-old boys were charged with stealing the motorized wheelchair from a home under renovation last month. The boys rode the $17,000 chair around the neighborhood until the battery died and then abandoned it, police said.

When Pinello — who has cerebral palsy — got his chair back, it was broken. The arm was off and the back of the chair was damaged.

So far, his customized chair is still in the repair shop, and he must use a manual chair.

Pinello said the manual chair is very uncomfortable, leaving his legs hurting. He said he is not independent in the chair.

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“My back is starting to hurt,” he said. “I need my power chair.”

The boys who allegedly stole the chair were neighbors from the villages of Flower Hill and East Hills. They bragged on Facebook about breaking into the Pinello family home, which is under renovation to make it handicapped-accessible, police said.

On a dare, they removed plywood to gain entrance, CBS 2 was told.

When they spotted the top-of-the-line wheelchair, they rode off into the night.

The two boys, charged with burglary and larceny, were due in court on Monday. As for the chair, it could take a few more weeks before it is replaced.

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