Criminals steal Sunrise special needs family’s brand new customized van

SUNRISE, Fla. – A Broward County special needs family is searching for answers after thieves stole most critical possession, a newly customized van.

For the family, it was a dream. A surprise gift from a brother.

They had the handicap van all of ten days before thieves who were caught on camera teamed up to take the ride.

“I was very happy with the van because he’s more comfortable and we don’t have to bother him to take out of the chair,” said the family’s mother, who did not want to be identified.

The heartbroken mother said the van was a blessing.

She doesn’t want the attention, but wants her son, who’s disabled, safe and happy.

“I do for him the best that I can,” she said. “My life is to make him happy, I do everything to make him happy. When I go, I want that he remembers me that I always make laugh.”

Her son Jose can’t walk or talk.

His mind is diminished after the 43-year-old was hit by a car in Brickell 26 years ago.

Their lives were changed forever, but they adapted.

And then a big heap of help after Jose’s younger brother saved up and surprised them with a customized van, complete with a lift and a TV.

“More important than the money is the effort that he made and the happiness that Jose had when he saw the van and we said it’s yours,” Jose’s mother said.

Video shows the thieves moved in on the van on Friday morning, crouching down and acting fast.

It was taken from outside their apartment off Sunrise Lakes Boulevard near North Pine Island Road.

The family still has the keys and are unsure how the crooks pulled off the caper.

“These are not people, they are whatever, but not people, not human beings, because they know what they were doing,” Jose’s mother said.

Anyone with information on the crime or who thinks they recognize the criminals in the video is urged to call Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS.

About the Author:

Andrew Perez is a South Florida native who joined the Local 10 News team in May 2014.