Xtracycle Stolen and Recovered within 2 hours!


I have some very excellent Karma.  Maybe just really good luck.  Who gets their bike back after being stolen?  Well, I don’t have it back as of yet, but it’s being held in the property room by Roanoke’s finest.  Officer Ramey saw two boys riding a very “unusual-looking” bike down an alley around Patterson Ave near the West End Center.  He approached them, they threw the bike down and fled, he pursued and caught them.  The fourteen year old, a recent juvy release out on parole, and the ten year old, were held, questioned and released to their parents/guardians.  The bike is waiting for me, damaged, to pick up on Monday downtown.  The mother of the 14 year old was livid, Officer Ramey told us.  She definitely wants us to press charges, and I certainly will, as that’s the only way I’ll get my custom child seat back.  The beautiful shocking-red roundabout seat made by Rob Hanson in MD, with the names of my children on each seat, was smashed to pieces.  At least I’ll get the rest of the bike back, though I hope the damage is minimal.  The officer said he thought it could be repaired.  We’ll see.

This is how it happened:  We had come home from a busy day of back-to-school errands exhausted.  I unpacked the xtracycle, but forgot to retrieve it as I got water and icy-pops and went about unpacking groceries and supplies.  Hours passed, and I totally forgot about my child-hauling, load carrying, amazing set of wheels sitting gorgeous near the steps in the front of my house.

Isak came home, asked, “Where’s your bike?”  and the worst was true.  It was stolen, around 5pm. 

That bike was worth something to me.  I’m not so much an objects person; I’m a teacher, and value experiences over things.  But that bike was the symbol of a very emotional hurdle.  I signed up for the carless brit experiment b/c I loved riding my bike.  It makes me feel great!  But I’ve had such a hard time figuring out how to incorporate riding and kids.  They grow quickly, they’re needy, they are tough and fragile all at the same time.  Then there’s the safety issue.  This bike gave me the ability to include my family in something I love, gave me a commitment to riding, and gave me a safe and reliable way to cargo my children.  Having it taken immediately made me realize what it was to me.  I can’t stop shaking my head about my carelessness.

As a teacher, I’m always looking for the lessons learned in the experiences I have.  There are many in this situation.  I am thinking about how I work with kids, love kids, but know they need parents, rules, consequences to be successful.  I am pondering my neighborhood, and how I thought I was more insulated from theft than I am.  I’m amazed at the police in this instance, specifically Officer Ramey for spotting and tracking down my bike, and really want to do something special to thank him.     I really don’t think I would have had such luck if I’d been riding a normal bike, so now I’m  really aware at the fact  that an Xtracycle gets attention.

13 responses to this post.

  1. So glad you got your bike back! This reminds me of the post on the Bakfiets en Meer blog about the family that painted their triple tandem green and yellow and plastered flowers all over it to make it more unique and thus less interesting to theives. Being unique is also a good way to get your bike back too, I guess!


  2. Congrats on getting your Xtracycle back. Hope the seat is repairable… She was a looker! 😀


  3. Wow, really glad you got it back! I know I’d be devastated — probably more so than if our car were stolen!


  4. I’m so sorry your bike was stolen and the seats ruined!

    Glad the police spotted it and the kids will be disciplined (at least one of them).


  5. Posted by Maria on August 15, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    Thank goodness! I know how the other mom feels and would definitely ask you to press charges , too (I have 2 boys). There are so many wonderful artists and crafts(wo)men in town – I hope they can restore your bike as good as new.


  6. Posted by Bruce A. Wilson on August 16, 2009 at 11:56 am

    I know what you mean. I have a good relationship with the bicycle patrol here; they know me and know my unique bikes (the Stokemonkeyed Big Dummy especially.)


  7. It is sad the disrespect some kids have of other people property. There is definitely a disconnect between the parents and the kids but I think that this is a cool story to keep in the forefront so others know of the value of the Xtracycle. I have one as well, along with 4 other bikes and I get more accomplished with the Xtracycle than I ever thought. That officer Ramsey had followed his gut knowing something was not right with the picture of those two kids on your bike. He should be applauded and if my gut is right you will probably find out he rides bike as well.


  8. Posted by roanokecarfreewithkids on August 16, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Thanks for the support, folks. Rob Hanson said he’d try and put together a new one with the remains of the old one. I loved that seat, and only hate the wait.


  9. Yaay! I am so glad your stolen Xtracycle was returned. I feel the same way you do– so much heart and soul and personality has gone into my beloved XtraJamis, I would be alternately enraged and heartbroken if it went missing. Like losing… well, I can’t think of anything that compares correctly! Anyway, I empathize deeply and want to commend Officer Ramey myself. Do find out if he is a cyclist himself, maybe you can bless him somehow in that way– buy him a bike or something for his bike. Or a badge of honor (with his name, photo and link to this post) on your blog somewhere. You’ll think of something appropriate. More power to you, and again, kudos to him.

    Good thing it was a couple of kids (amateurs) rather than pros, who would not have allowed such a distinctive bike to be seen. Your bike would probably be sold as components by now, and the Free Rad would appear on eBay or Craigslist as “used”… and those custom seats would be in a dumpster somewhere.

    For a good number of years, RootsRadicals’ conventional wisdom was that serious bike thieves don’t steal Xtracycles because they look weird, too unique, too easily traced– and there is not a perceived black-market for them. Or, there hasn’t been.

    Anyone know any indication of FreeRadicals being targeted by bike thieves? Your experience is evidence that we may still be fairly safe from that sort of thing… but never safe from “opportunistic” thieves like those two kids.

    (…and reading Bruce Wilson’s comment makes me want to get to know the cops in my own neighborhood!)


  10. Posted by locus on August 17, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    What a story!

    I’m very happy to hear that your Xtra was recovered, although I’m quite sorry to hear that your custom seat was broken. I’m another Xtra rider with a custom seat for my two kids (4 and 2). My first kid seat was lovingly crafted by a carpenter Uncle. When I had an accident and it was broken, I was devastated. The whole point of the bike was for me to carry both kids at the same time, so I can really understand your loss. Luckily, I was able to get him to make another for me.

    I suggest that you press charges on the kids to make them pay for the construction of a new seat. I don’t really want to see them get a juvenile record, but they need to understand the consequences of their actions. I’m sure their parents will likely pay to offer you restitution, but I would expect the parents will find a suitable way to extract suitable punishment for their teenage transgression.

    Glad to hear that the worst was avoided!


  11. Wow chris you certainly are having challenges with carlessness. This post of yours was beautiful. I am surprised your bike was stolen, your n/h seems so sleepy and safe.


    • Posted by roanokecarfreewithkids on August 17, 2009 at 10:32 pm

      Challenges that are more about humans getting along and living together in these times and less about being able to ride my bike. I too am surprised that it was stolen. My neighborhood is great. These kids were opportunistic thrill seekers, and really, if they had just come to talk to me about the bike, I probably would have given them rides. Instead, the 14 yo who was out on parole faces charges and the threat of going back to jail b/c of a stupid thrill. Whether or not he has remorse, I don’t know. But if he had learned to talk to and appreciate other people instead of steal from them, I think I’d still believe my neighborhood was safe. Instead, I am slightly miffed b/c I may have to buy a new bike b/c my frame and rear wheel are bent. But I’ll be sure to lock everything up next time.


  12. I ran across your blog and love the challenge you are undertaking as well as your blogging about it. I was googling Roanoke stolen bikes, which captured your story of your bike being stolen, because I’ve thought about creating a website registry for stolen bikes in the NRV. I’d also like to incorporate social networking. Here’s an article I found interesting – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203706604574372742013894458.html


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