06 May 2017

They Didn't Catch A Bike Thief. But They Helped A Victim.

When bicycles were stolen from me, I imagined the ways in which I'd punish the thief.  Some of them came out of Dante's Inferno; others came from my own fertile (if I say so myself) imagination. 

Since I never got to face the human-shaped creatures who took my bikes, I don't know whether or not I would have meted out "frontier justice".  The one time I ever saw someone in the act of trying to steal a bike, I approached him from behind and tapped him on the shoulder.  In those days, I was younger, leaner, more muscular and angrier.  Of course, seeing that lowlife got me even more riled up.

Being a cyclist, I understand how it feels to lose a bike.  And, because I made my living on a bike for a year, I know that losing one's wheels could be disastrous.  So, you might say that I take it personally when someone steals someone's bike.

Although the sorts of crimes people commit really haven't changed much throughout history, there are still some that shock us.  Sometimes it has to do with the brutality or intensity of the act, or the brazenness or depravity of the criminal.  Other times, the vulnerability of the victim causes us to react in ways that we don't when we hear about other crimes.

Brennan Miller was one such victim.  The 12-year-old resident of Toledo, Ohio had his bike taken from him at knifepoint.  Now, when I hear of such things, I expect the perp to be one of his peers, or someone not much older.  Part of the reason for that is my own experience:  Years ago, I was mugged by two young men close to my age.  And, in most of the stories I heard about kids getting "jumped", the antagonists were young people not much different from the ones they attacked.

But Miller's attacker was an adult who fled.  Now, I think Dante should have had a particular spot deep in Hell for adults who victimize children in any way.  And, yes, that goes for whoever took Brennan's bike.

James Izbinski, manager of Reggie's Bike Shop in West Toledo, Ohio, presents Brendan Miller with a new bike.

I guess what keeps me from becoming completely cynical is that for all of the thugs, punks and pure-and-simple crooks in this world, there are many others who are benevolent or simply practice acts of kindness.  James Izbinski is one such person.  He manages a business where seemingly like-minded folks work:  Reggie's Bike Shop, in West Toledo.

They gave him a new BMX bike that, according to Izbinski, is "the BMW of bicycles".  As sad as he was to lose his old bike, Miller agreed that his new bike is a fine machine, even nicer than the one he lost.  He says he had no idea that he was getting the bike and, in thanking shop employees, he said he feels they're "part of my family now."

Along with the bike, Miller received a new, programmable bike lock and some advice from Izbinski:  "Try to be aware of what's going on around you so it won't happen again!"

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