Upper West Side

Electric Wheelchair Stolen From 96-Year-Old Man on Upper West Side: Police

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Police are looking for the suspect who is believed to have stolen an electric wheelchair from a 96-year-old Holocaust survivor on the Upper West Side.

The mobility device was allegedly swiped from outside a dermatologist's office on West End Avenue and West 73rd Street around 8 a.m. Tuesday, according to police. The victim, Erich Plan, left the electric wheelchair outside, and when he returned two hours later, it was gone.

A police investigation found that the chair, valued at $2,570, had been taken by a unidentified thief just 10 minutes after the victim went inside.

Plan, who makes a point to get to the doctor regularly after being treated for skin cancer, said he never expected someone would steal his chair.

"They checked the film and they saw how the wheelchair was stolen, that somebody came, sat in the wheelchair, turned it on and drove away," he said. "The thing that upsets me most is that a wheelchair indicates that there is a handicapped person...it may cause a lot of problems to the handicapped person."

The suspect was captured on surveillance camera riding the wheelchair on the sidewalk of West End Avenue heading south later in the day, smirking as she rolled down the street. She has not yet been caught, and an investigation is ongoing.

Plan was fortunate that his niece was visiting the city from Europe on Tuesday, and she was able to get him into and return home.

"I hope it was really because of a need. Maybe somebody really needs a wheelchair," said niece Nina Klefin. "It's really disappointing."

Plan escaped Hitler in Yugoslavia, then fled to Italy and later lived in Israel before making New York his home. He said he was "optimistic" he would get his chair back.

Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).

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