Vet to get loaner to replace stolen scooter

Tom Cammarata's motorized scooter was stolen from his

Tom Cammarata's motorized scooter was stolen from his home on Bushwick Avenue in Central Islip, police said. (Oct. 10, 2012) (Credit: James Carbone)

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Tom Cammarata was gushing with joy Wednesday morning after learning that a Long Island medical supply company was going to lend him a motorized scooter.

"This is a big relief, unbelievable," said Cammarata, 59, a disabled Vietnam veteran from Central Islip. "I feel great now. I really do."

Sunday morning had marked a different emotion for Cammarata, whose own scooter was stolen from his home on Bushwick Avenue.

Suffolk County police said the scooter was stolen between 1 and 7 a.m. Sunday from the front of the house. A blue three-wheeled Champion 3 model valued at about $1,800, the scooter most likely was dragged across the lawn and lifted into a waiting vehicle, Cammarata said.

He learned earlier on Wednesday that Drive Medical, a Port Washington medical supply company, would lend him a scooter until another can be ordered for him through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Cammarata said his "loaner" was going to be delivered Thursday morning.

Doug Francis, owner of Drive Medical, said the idea that someone stole such a vital product from Cammarata, a veteran, struck a chord.

"We believe our business brings a sense of independence and freedom to peoples' lives, and when you consider this man is a veteran and someone stole an important item from him, it sort of touches home," Francis said.

Initially, Cammarata was upset because the motorized scooter gives him independence, he said, including the freedom to volunteer regularly at the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He uses the scooter to get to the bus stop, from which he commutes almost daily to the medical center, and for shopping.

In 2003, Cammarata said he was the victim of a hit-and-run accident that severely fractured his left ankle. Since the accident, standing and walking mean constant pain for him, he said.

When he realized his scooter had been stolen, he said he "went into semipanic mode."

He walked outside to the front porch Sunday morning, discovered the scooter was not there and then hoped he had put it in back of the house, where he usually leaves it to be recharged.

"When I found it wasn't there, I knew someone had stolen it," he said.

Cammarata said the representative from the medical supply company originally wanted to give him a scooter, but he said he refused.

"I just wanted them to loan me one until I can order a new one from the VA," he said. "So I'm going to get to use one, and that's great," he said.

Police ask anyone with information about the theft to call Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential, police said.

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