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NYPD Returns Wheelchair Stolen on Christmas Day to Jackson Heights Resident

NYPD Officers returning a stolen wheelchair to the family of Michelle Martinez Molina on Jan. 2 (via NYPD News)

Jan. 3, 2019  By Meghan Sackman

A Jackson Heights resident has at last been reunited with her custom wheelchair after it was stolen on Christmas Day from outside her home.

Police, along with local officials, returned the $5,000 wheelchair yesterday to Michelle Molina, an 18-year-old with Rett Syndrome and scoliosis, after it was cut from its chains outside her 77th Street apartment on Dec. 25.

Officers from the 115th Precinct found the wheelchair in a nearby park on Tuesday after days of searching and canvassing, according to reports, in an incident that sparked outrage locally and citywide.

Antonia Molina, Michelle’s mother, said she kept the chair chained up outside their apartment because it was too heavy to bring up into the home.

“She relies on it on a daily basis, so we wanted to get the investigation done as quick as possible and provide some closure for this family and reunite her with the wheelchair,” NYPD Officer Tyler Scala said to reporters yesterday.

While the wheelchair was returned yesterday, police made an arrest in the case on Dec. 31, with Minera Martinez, a 34-year-old identified as a homeless woman by reports, now facing charges of grand larceny, criminal trespass and more.

Council Member Francisco Moya, who joined police in returning the wheelchair to the Martinez Molina family, took to Twitter to congratulate the 115th Precinct on their job well done.

“It’s reprehensible to steal a wheelchair, especially from someone like Michelle who suffers from Rett Syndrome and depends on it—on Christmas night no less,” he said, later adding, “I hope this brings some relief to Michelle and her family.”

Michelle’s family, according to ABC 7, said the wheelchair was found at just the right time to allow her to return back to school after the winter break.

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Sherri Rosen

That’s awesome!!! I’m so happy for the family and the NYPD showed
people what a good heart they have and how caring they are. Happy and healthy new year to all.


What’s more reprehensible than the burgling of this wheelchair?

That there is a homeless woman in the streets of the richest city in the world so desperate that she feels she has to steal something like this.

Wheee is the outpouring of sympathy for this woman? Where are the cries for justice for her? Why does she not have a warm place to sleep if her own?

As a former resident of JH, I feel it is shameful that not one ounce of care and concern is directed to this woman. Y’all should be ashamed of yourselves.


Yes, it is unfortunate that she is homeless and surviving on the streets of NYC is not easy. However, there are a lot of resources for the homeless. They are not always the best conditions, but the resources are there. I know many people that used the resources to get back on their feet and turn their life around. Instead this woman chose to go an alternate route and steal from people. She stole a wheelchair that is obvious to the naked eye is not a standard wheelchair and is custom. Instead of thinking about the poor disabled person, she was thinking dollar signs if sold on street. Now she can get her shelter at Rikers. GREAT JOB and kudos to the 115 Pct!!

JHeights my whole life

I am so glad this young lady got her wheelchair back. Happy New Year to her and her family. And thanks to the cops at the 115 who didn’t rest until the chair was returned. As for the thieving Ms. Martinez you’re not homeless anymore you have a new address on Hazen street called Rikers Island.


i have been in plenty of desperate situations and have never stole – i chose a higher road rather than take from others who bust their ass to have what they do. I always EARNED everything instead of taking easy way out and just taking it

JHeights my whole life

Stealing a custom wheelchair from a special needs child and for what? Did she sell it to make money to eat??? No she hid it in a park that’s all she did so she is now in jail for nothing. I can understand someone who goes to a supermarket and steals food to eat. I can’t understand a person that steals a wheelchair from a school kid for no reason. So before all you bleeding hearts cry for this homeless lady remember what she did and who she did it to. And why did she do it, why did she go to jail?? No good reason.


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