PARK FOREST, Ill. (STMW) – A Park Forest man was greeted with an unwelcome 50th birthday surprise — someone stole his wheelchair-accessible van.

Randy Iliff, who uses a wheelchair, returned to the Richton Park Metra station last week to find his van missing. He had left it in a handicapped parking spot at the station. “At first I thought my wife and stepson took it as a practical joke,” said Iliff, who turned 50 on Oct. 19. “Someone’s going to pull something when you’re 50.”

But it was no joke.

The modified 1992 Chevrolet Conversion van with Iliff’s custom-built wheelchair ramps, wheelchair charger and ham radio equipment inside disappeared from the lot while Iliff was at work at an Illinois Department of Human Services office.

“The police said they probably took it for a joyride from point A to point B or something,” he said.

Police records confirm that a van was stolen.

Iliff now regularly travels two miles to and from the train station to his job on his motorized wheelchair.

Iliff has dystonia musculorum deformans, which makes it difficult to take more than a step without a walker. He uses one around his house. The rest of the time he gets around in the motorized wheelchair and his van.

Iliff’s wife works at a nearby Dunkin’ Donuts, and one of her co-workers happened to see the van leaving the train station about 3:30 p.m. the day it was stolen. No one has seen it since.

The two-toned blue van has a yellow light bar on the roof and Illinois disabled plates with a number of 132075.

Anyone with information is asked to call Richton Park police at (708) 481-8911.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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