Alleged Wheelchair Thief Arrested

The suspect leaving the scene.

By Carol Tannenhauser

A 45-year-old man from the Bronx was arrested Friday night for allegedly stealing the electric wheelchair of a 95-year-old man on Tuesday, from outside a doctor’s office on West End Avenue between 70th and 71st Streets.

Torie Branch, 45, was apprehended via an anonymous tip, police told the Rag. Because the wheelchair is valued at more than $1,000, he was charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property.

The nature of the property and the fact that the victim is a Holocaust survivor sent this story viral.

According to Fox5, the victim, Eric Plan, “was the only member of his family who survived imprisonment in the [Auschwitz concentration] camp and was beaten so badly that it affected his balance. He needs a wheelchair or walker to get around.” Because the medical office wasn’t accessible, he left the wheelchair outside while he went to his appointment.

Branch was captured on video leaving the scene of the crime in the wheelchair.

That was the second unusual getaway of the day. Also on Tuesday, three men robbed a T-Mobile store on 77th and Broadway, only to barrel into another car as they sped away.

NEWS | 16 comments | permalink
    1. Carlos says:

      Great job NYPD for catching the thief. Seems like this should be a pretty easy case to try, and hopefully they throw the book at this despicable human being.

      And for those scoring at home, it appears the thief is from the Bronx, not nearby housing projects.

    2. Rez says:

      Excellent news! Now keep the perp locked up!

    3. Marcel The Shell says:

      Without going into complex legal issues at the federal and state level, why aren’t we keeping it simple: we have an issue of rising local crime. Bail reform and Bragg are here to stay, for now. Let’s ask Gale Brewer and Hoylman how they plan to lower crime within the confines of the woke progressive nightmare we find ourselves in right now. Why hasn’t Gale asked for more DOT and NYPD cameras? Why haven’t we urged local small businesses to put “Under Surveillance” signs in their windows? Why doesn’t Brewer ask the local police officers to do patrol on foot? are we back at pre COVID staffing levels in the precinct or are we still short staffed? Why hasn’t brewer helped in the formation of a Broadway Business Improvement District (BID), to improve safety as well as boost business? Cue Columbus Ave., 60-70s- what a pleasure to shop there. She has all these connections from decades of being here and yet Safety and Small Business are not improving any better than anywhere else, with just 1 new store opening on Broadway since COVID. We expect more. We have to stop sitting and waiting for change.

      • Jen says:

        Brewer addresses only easy targets such as dark stores.
        Crime is rampant, yet she allows for more shelters that in turn bring more drug dealers from other neighborhoods.

        We need to unite and stop the incessant string of shelters. Contacting her as a group instead of individual calls will make more impact.

        • Huh says:

          How are shelter issues relevant here? The perp is from the Bronx.
          These important issues but getting facts wrong makes the argument weaker.

    4. VioletB says:

      Of note: how is a medical office allowed to not be wheelchair accessible? Aren’t there laws about that?

    5. Maxine says:

      I’m glad he was caught. It takes a special kind of (fill-in the blank) to steal a wheelchair. We are basically living with never ending looting. I give up on NYC, moving out of state.

    6. David says:

      What happened to the law that requires doctor’s offices and other places accessible? I’m not blaming the victim, but that doctor needs to obey the law. David

      • NYYgirl says:

        Yes. It seems absolutely ridiculous that somebody can’t take their wheelchair in to the doctor’s office…how does that make any sense?!

    7. ActNow says:

      We had a big problem with a transition home on 83rd between Colombia and Amsterdam across PS9 were criminals and sex offenders were being released with minimal supervision, if any at all. We all paid a big price do that this type of housing could exist in a residential neighborhood and across the street from the school playground. I have seen activity coming back to that building again I wonder what is going on there ?

    8. life long UWSider says:

      That this 90 year old gentleman survived Auschwitz but had his wheelchair stolen–a wheelchair he needs due to despicable and demonic cruelty in his early life– on 77th Street and West End Avenue brings me to tears.
      I try to understand this world. But I don’t think I ever will.

    9. Margaret says:

      I feel terrible for this gentleman. If there wasn’t a key, then at least a “FIND MY —-“ tag to help locate it. I know, too little too late :’-(.

    10. Sarah says:

      45 years old and (allegedly) stealing wheelchairs. Pretty sad.

      Still absurd that a medical office was inaccessible to a wheelchair, though.

    11. Joe says:

      This is part of the continued disrespect for authority and police. zI can do whatever I want because I won’t get caught, or be released anyway.