96-year-old Holocaust survivor finds ‘silver lining’ in NYC wheelchair theft  

NY Post

The 96-year-old Manhattan man whose electric wheelchair was stolen from outside his doctor’s office condemned the crook for the outrageous crime — but said there’s a “silver lining” from Tuesday’s theft. Eric Plan, an Austrian native who survived the Holocaust, told The Post in a Friday interview that he’s not really bothered by the loss of his $2,500 wheelchair, though he is questioning why somebody would snatch one from a handicapped person. “I would say that stealing a wheelchair for the value of it, it’s not important. It’s an old wheelchair without much value in my opinion,” Plan said. “But to steal a wheelchair from a handicapped person who is going to come out and obviously cannot walk, and has to face the situation to get home … It’s a very difficult thing.” “It’s a very simple moral thing that shouldn’t be done.” Plan said that he arrived at the medical office on West End Avenue near 73rd Street at about 8 a.m. and left his wheelchair outside as he usually does. “I park it by the door … because there was a strip and I couldn’t go in with the wheelchair,” Plan explained. The senior was inside for a roughly two-hour procedure, and when he came out his wheelchair was gone. Surveillance footage released by the NYPD Thursday shows the still-at-large suspect rolling down the sidewalk on West End Avenue aboard the stolen wheels. Plan reported the incident to the NYPD and took a taxi home to his Upper West Side apartment. He plans on getting a new wheelchair, but said the extra exercise he is getting in the meantime is actually good for his health. “It’s a silver lining actually because everybody is always telling me you have to walk,” he said.” “I’m 96 years old and I have a balance problem, very severe. I can walk with a walker.” Plan said he’s been overwhelmed by the community support he’s received since the theft. “I must say one thing. Everybody was trying to be very helpful and it makes me feel very good. I don’t care that much about the value of the wheelchair … it’s an old wheelchair,” Plan said over the phone. “Even an organization called me up and said, ‘we’ll try to get you a new wheelchair,’” he said. “I said ‘no thank you, but can you make me younger?,’” Plan cracked. “It’s typical for New York. When there is something very serious, people stick together.” Plan came to the city in the 1950s to start a career as a land surveyor and said the outpouring of support he has received recently reminded him of the warm welcome he got when he first arrived in the US. “When I came to New York I got a job immediately,” he recounted. “In America it seems a person who wants to work and wants to deliver something has a great chance; much easier than anyplace else.”

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