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Wheelchair-dependent Woman Robbed in Menlo Park

Two vehicles stolen from the Flood Park Triangle neighborhood.

Menlo Park Police are searching for two handicap-adapted vehicles that were stolen from a home in the Flood Park Triangle neighborhood on Thursday. 

The owner of the two vehicles, Nettie Wijsman, was preparing to go on a business trip when they were stolen in front of her home.

She had heard it was going to rain on Thursday, so started to pack her car on Wednesday to avoid being doused. “Then I did a really stupid thing. I’d been traveling for work and was running on two cylinders,” she said, pausing to reflect on what she was about to reveal.

“I left the car keys in the ignition,” she admitted. 

18 vehicles were stolen in Menlo Park this year, according to the Menlo Park Police. Hers bring the total to 21.

Wijsman said one of the vehicles would be easy to identify. She described it as a black 2000 Honda CRV with a large platform wheelchair lift attached to the back. (A photo of the vehicle is attached to this article.)  She estimated the vehicle’s worth, including the cost of the wheelchair lift, at about $11,000.  

The other vehicle is a gold 1999 Dodge Grand Caravan. The value of the van is about $5,000. The wheelchair lift that was installed in the van cost about $25,000, she said. While the cost of the CRV may be covered by insurance, Wisjman only had liability insurance on the Caravan.

Wijsman is not sure how she is going to commute to work without these vehicles, given that she must travel throughout the Bay Area for her job. She works as an ergonomics consultant and used the CRV daily, she said. Wijsman has been confined to a wheelchair since 2007. 

“Normally people just go out and rent a car in this situation,” she said. She said it was very frustrating to try to find a rental vehicle that was able to accommodate her wheelchair. 

“I’m stuck scooting around to public transportation,” she added, noting that the closest Caltrain station was about three miles away.

Her friend Marilyn Green said Wijsman was completely reliant on the vehicles for her livelihood.

“Even if public transportation could get her to close to her destinations, the limited battery life of her motorized wheelchair could leave her stranded,” Green said.

Wijsman said whoever took the vehicle probably knew what they were doing and was not from the neighborhood. The wheelchair lift on the van was down when it was taken from in front of her home.

“It’s tricky to operate,” she said, “Even when I take it to mechanics, they have problems,” she said.  

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of these two vehicles is encouraged to call the Menlo Park Police at (650) 330-6395. 

Vanessa Castañeda November 10, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Update: The vehicles were found this morning in Redwood City.

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