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Amputee swimming star Philippe Croizon's wheelchair stolen, returned after athlete's plea heard on TV

French athlete Philippe Croizon, the first quadruple amputee to swim across the English Channel, was targeted by thieves while on vacation with relatives when his wheelchair was stolen. It has now been returned after the athlete's plea was heard on TV.

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French swimmer and amputee, Philippe Croizon, completed a swim between Russia and Alaska with the aid of prosthetic paddles. The swim was Croizon's last leg of a 3-month swimming journey to cross the straits connecting every continent. (Youtube/Screengrab)

The first quadruple amputee to swim the English Channel had his wheelchair stolen while on vacation with family in northern France.

Philippe Croizon's custom-built, all terrain wheelchair has since been returned and was found abandoned in a parking lot.

"After he saw the story on TF1 (news broadast), a man called me on the telephone," said Croizon. "Thank you to the internet users, you were incredible…thank you to the medias.

"Thank you to the police." 

The athlete, who lost all four limbs in an electrical accident in 1994, pleaded with thieves to return his custom-built, all-terrain wheelchair, saying he is "nothing" without it.

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"They haven't just stolen my wheelchair, they've stolen my independence," he previously told French media.

Someone stole the $26,000 wheelchair with the trailer it was stored in last Thursday outside the home of friends near Dieppe in northern France. 

It cost so much money Croizon needed donations from friends to help pay for it.

More from GlobalPost: Man without arms or legs swims from the US to Russia

"Let them keep the trailer if they want it but at least give me back the wheelchair," he told AFP. "Daily life is already difficult enough.”

Croizon, 45, became the first quadruple amputee to swim across the English Channel in 2010, using custom-made flippers to extend his limbs.

He also completed a swim linking five continents in 2012, and became the first quadruple amputee to complete a 33-meter (108-foot) dive earlier this year.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/france/130812/amputee-swimming-star-philippe-croizon-wheelchair-stolen