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Dodge Caravan stolen with wheelchair-dependent man inside

Police later find minivan abandoned with nonverbal passenger unharmed
Stolen Caravan with Wheelchair-Dependent Man Inside in Port St. Lucie
Posted at 3:55 PM, Jan 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-31 07:58:35-05

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Police in Port St. Lucie are searching for the person who stole a minivan with a wheelchair-dependent man inside.

The vehicle was stolen just before 2 p.m. Monday outside a convenience store in the 900 block of Southwest Bayshore Boulevard.

Port St. Lucie police said a group home employee was driving a nonverbal, 55-year-old wheelchair-dependent man when the driver stopped at a convenience store and got out of the vehicle for an errand.

Police said a man walking by got in the minivan and then drove off with the passenger still inside.

"A video camera shows us an individual without a shirt carrying a big duffel bag, jumped into the vehicle and took off," Port St. Lucie Police Chief John Bolduc said.

The vehicle, which had been seen traveling north on Bayshore Boulevard, was found a short time later near Floresta Drive and Naranja Avenue. The passenger was inside, but the man who stole the minivan was gone.

Dodge Caravan found, but man who stole it gone, Jan. 30, 2023
The stolen Dodge Caravan was found a short time later near Bayshore Boulevard and Floresta Drive, along with the wheelchair-dependent man, Jan. 30, 2023, in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

The agency said a forensics team, police personnel and K-9s were searching for the man.

Police said the passenger was not harmed and the name of the group home wasn't disclosed.

"Obviously, leaving a vehicle unattended unlocked and running is not the safest thing," Bolduc said.

The police chief said he wasn't sure whether it can be considered a carjacking because there was no violence threat.

"There's a possibility of kidnapping," he said. "It really is going to depend on what he knew about somebody being in the vehicle."

Port St. Lucie resident Gregory Pierce had this to say about the incident: "That's terrible. It's just really bad luck for him. It could've been a child. It could have been several children on their way home from school."

Pierce said he was thankful to know that police acted so swiftly.

"He'll be apprehended," he said.