By Cheri Rae
It’s bad enough that the thief boldly walked onto our property, crossing fences and opening gates where not invited. The shiny object, coveted an claimed, was not out in the open—easy to pick off and ride away.
No, the bicycle was carefully put away in the front of the garage. It took a certain determination to maneuver around the boxes, tools, and cleaning supplies to reach them, a brand-new fixie, a gift that arrived at Christmas time.
This is not the first time my son has had something ripped off from the back yard—he learned at a pretty young age about predators who would run off with skateboards and bikes left unlocked and unguarded. So he’s learned to close gates and put his possessions out of sight.
But this is surely the worst time. For that fixie bike has a story, it was the best gift, the best moment of the recent holiday season.
That fixie bike didn’t belong to my son. It wasn’t a gift he received; it was one he gave, full of holiday spirit.
It was the biggest purchase he’s made in his 16 years. He took money out of his bank account to purchase that sleek new fixie for a neighborhood friend of his whose family wasn’t able to buy him a bike. They couldn’t manage to replace his last bike, the one that was stolen from his own backyard.
I don’t know who was more thrilled with that new bike on Christmas morning—the boy who bought it or the one who received it. And boy, did they have fun riding together, until they both came down with bad colds and couldn’t ride for about a week.
Feeling better, they planned a weekend ride—which keeps them healthy, balanced and in good spirit. But when they went out to the garage, the bike was gone.
Irony Number One: Our neighbor had stored his new fixie in our garage for safekeeping, thinking it a safer place than his backyard, with no garage.
Irony Number Two: Our neighborhood meeting last week featured our assigned Beat Coordinator from the Santa Barbara Police Department who spoke on the issues of neighborhood safety—after elevated local concern about recent thefts. Just a few months ago, I hosted one of these police reassurance meetings in my own living room, but I missed this one in order to help my son study for his finals.
He’s been studying hard and learned his lessons well—but this part of his education doesn’t come from school: getting your stuff stolen in Santa Barbara is a regular occurrence—and there doesn’t seem to be much of anything anyone can do. Based on previous experience, the police are helpless to protect us from this predatory way of life.
So once again, our family that has enough, but not a lot, has to figure out how to recoup the losses—not just the things, but the sense of safety, the sense of security, the sense of confidence that if you work hard you can get ahead.
Someone else took those dreams and rode away on them. Shame on the thief who took that brand-new fixie—the gray one with the distinctive purple rims—away
from a couple of good kids who deserved the joy that bike brought, not this cruel and crushing blow.
The thief hurt them, but he couldn’t steal away the spirit of two kids trying to figure out ways to earn another one. And that willingness to pick up the pieces and get to work can’t be taken away, even by the darkest soul.