A theft from outside the Crossing All Bridges Learning Centre in Brantford, Ont., over the weekend of Jan. 6–7 has organizers and the community alike describing the brazen crime as “heartbreaking,” and though it was typical of “backyard looters,” the Brantford Expositor reported, what was stolen was much more irreplaceable than the thieves might have thought.
Along with a flat-screen television, the haul stolen from a storage shed on the Learning Centre’s property also included four bicycles—and those bikes played an important role in the organization’s efforts to help the differently-abled.
“What you stole is worth so much more than what I’m sure you pawned or sold the items for,” wrote executive director Paula Thomlison in a letter to the newspaper’s editor. “We are a centre that supports individuals with varying abilities to embrace a love of life, a love of learning and lifelong friendships.” The stolen bikes, used by the program’s participants in taking self-propelled adventures around the city’s trails, were part of that system of support, and all of them were donated to the Centre. Benefactors included the Brantford police and SC Johnson, and without their help, Thomlinson noted, acquiring them would have been next to impossible.
“On our own, we would have never been able to purchase them,” Thomlison said, her letter illustrating the true cost of the thieves’ act, which was discovered on Jan. 9. Those thieves, she said, “took a wonderful opportunity away from us.”
The four stolen bikes were each less than a year old, the Expositor reports, and were valued at about $500 apiece. Though the bike thieves left behind a tricycle used by Learning Centre participants who are unable to ride a two-wheeler, the damage, she said, has been done. “We’re not likely to put in a claim,” Thomlison said. “We don’t have money in our budget to replace them.”
Two of the stolen bikes are described as a silver and burgundy CCM, as well as a silver and blue CCM. The two others are a silver and blue bike and another white bike, both makes and models unknown.