Bicycle Theft

Well, we had a bit of excitement today! My neighbour knocked on the door at about 4PM to tell us that a couple of kids had walked into our open garage and taken my son’s brand new bicycle. He’s had it for a week, and thanks to the weather he hadn’t even taken it for a ride yet! The garage had been open for about five minutes; my wife opened it and then went to the back yard to use the hose.

We immediately called the police, and I went out to try to find the kids. I explored a bit on foot, but then came back and got the car. I was politically correct; I drove the streets around my house first, before heading into the Ontario Housing project nearby. There were probably a 100 kids on 50 bikes there, but I did eventually see a kid on my son’s bike in a playground. He saw me at about the same time that I saw him and took off (on a footpath) with the bike. That’s when the first police car arrived, so I flagged it down instead of chasing the kid.

A very nice gentleman sitting on his front step told us that he had seen a couple of kids ditching a bike behind some garbage cans in the next housing development over. Sure enough, there was my son’s bike leaning on a parked car. I took it home, where I gave the police a description of the kid I saw on the bike. Strangely, the kid I saw didn’t match any of the kids my neighbour saw at the house; I wonder how that works…

So score one for the forces of good; my son’s bike was recovered. The kid abandoned his _old_ bike in front of our house when he took the new bike; the police now have it, and (if we’re lucky) some 12 year old has to explain to his parents why he no longer has a bicycle).

The kids were falling over each other thanking the nice policeman, and they baked brownies for the neighbour across the street to thank him for being alert and ringing our doorbell. I should go back and thank the gentleman who pointed out the hiding spot for the bicycle, too.

I’m sad that I now have to teach my seven year-old that he has to keep his bicycle locked all the time, even when it is in our garage or when he’s visiting the neighbour’s house. I’m sad to have my prejudices against Ontario Housing reinforced. I’m sad that a kid would feel entitled steal a bicycle (when he already has one!). I’m sad that a kid would be confident enough to steal from a garage, in broad daylight, and then ride around in the open; was he really so sure that he wouldn’t get caught?

There was an impressive police response; three cars for a stolen bicycle! I believe this was because the theft was so recent, and because the police really want to catch these kids. The nice policeman told me that they like to catch kids young; that gives us a change to scare them straight. Otherwise, they soon escalate from bicycles to money and jewelry. This would have been a good case; because they entered my garage, the charge is Break and Enter, not just Theft. He also said that they all get caught sooner or later. Sooner is just better, both for the neighbourhood and for the _kids_.

Kids who grow up in subsidized housing have enough trouble in life without buying more by stealing. I know it must be hard living right next to “the rich people”, and having to walk past them every day to get to school, but that’s not an excuse. Right now they’re young, and any crimes they commit will disappear. A few years older and any arrests will be part of their permanent record, and then what? Landlords all do background checks these days; good luck getting an apartment. Ditto many employers. That’s a whole lot of bad karma because a kid felt entitled to upgrade his bicycle.

posted at 6:30 pm on Sunday, June 08, 2003 in Personal | Comments (2)


  1. crooks says:

    That sure is one heck of a generalization about poor kids in public housing!

  2. Harald says:

    Which one? Because frankly, I was trying very hard not to generalise…

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