NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Queens family wants answers after discovering someone stole their daughter’s expensive wheelchair on Christmas Day.
Michelle Martinez Molina has Rett Syndrome, a genetic brain disorder that’s left her unable to talk beyond a few words. The teen also relies on a wheelchair, and the one she had was stolen from outside her family’s apartment building on 77th Street in Jackson Heights.
“I would say it’s very inhumane,” Michelle’s twin sister, Giselle, said.
Giselle says she’s heartsick someone would victimize their family and leave her sister stranded.
“They don’t need it,” Giselle said. “I don’t understand why you would take it. It’s very inconsiderate because you’re not thinking about how it affects us, we really need it.”
The family found Michelle’s wheelchair just too heavy and wide to make it up to the narrow staircase leading to their second floor apartment, so they kept it outside tucked away and locked up.
“You had to purposely come in and take it,” Giselle said.
Their dad, Mario, showed CBS2’s Dave Carlin the chain busted by the brazen wheelchair bandits. A search so far has failed to turn up surveillance video of the crime as it happened, so the family’s hope is other video emerges from elsewhere in the neighborhood of someone with the chair.
It was not a motorized wheelchair, but for Mario and his wife it will be a financial hardship. Through a translator he said a new one would cost around $5,000.
The family received a smaller temporary wheelchair from a friend, but they can only hang onto it for a week. Without a long term fix, Michelle may not be able to attend her school after the holiday break.
Since the story first aired, CBS2 received numerous calls from viewers looking to donate a wheelchair. We’ve since put them in touch with the family.
The investigation is ongoing.