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Disabled Teen’s Van Stolen During Greek Fest

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Matthew Kaye, 15, was visiting Greek Fest in downtown Chicago on Aug. 28, 2011, when someone stole the handicapped accessible van his family needs to drive him around. (Credit: CBS)

Matthew Kaye, 15, was visiting Greek Fest in downtown Chicago on Aug. 28, 2011, when someone stole the handicapped accessible van his family needs to drive him around. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – A trip into the city was a costly one for a Lombard family.

While they were at Greek Fest on Sunday, someone stole their van, but it’s not just any van – it’s a handicapped accessible vehicle that belongs to a special young man who can’t even get to the doctor now.

“I searched everywhere to find it,” said Matthew Kaye, 15.

As CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman reports, Matthew, who has cerebral palsy, got downtown in a Dodge Caravan conversion made to accommodate his wheelchair. He and his mom parked on Monroe Street, between Sangamon and Green streets.

When they returned to the spot, the van was gone. As of Tuesday night, there was no indication someone towed it. The Kayes called police to file a theft report.

Anna Kaye said she believes the person who took the van knows it was special.

“You can tell,” she said. “It’s lower to the ground. It has a sticker on the door where the ramp comes down showing a wheelchair.”

She said the van is going to be tough to replace. It took her a long time to find a mildly-used one she could afford – and even then it was expensive.

“It’s hurting us as a family. It’s really hurting us,” Anna said.

“He needs that for his life,” said Matthew’s uncle, Tony Darmstadt, “I love Matthew with all my heart.”

Darmstadt says the van opened the world up to his nephew. It also made it possible for him to get to therapy and doctor appointments.

Matthew asked, “Can you let them know that’s my van?”

We told him we would get the word out, thus this story.

The theft couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Matthew’s dad has been laid off. His mom says there’s no income and it costs too much to rent an accessible van.

So, if you’ve seen a dark blue Dodge Caravan with plate number 864-5489, call police.

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