A body shop owner who has restored thousands of bicycles to put a smile on needy children’s faces at Christmas is seeking help from the community after a thief took 15 new bikes early Tuesday from East Coast Body Shop.
It’s the second loss at the 923-A Farr Road business since thieves took 14 bikes on Sept. 30 from behind a locked wooden fence on the property.
Despite the set back, business owner Edgar Jackson said he still plans to giveaway 1,000 bikes at Christmas this year.
“We aren’t going to sit back, stand back and watch children in our community be put out of smiles for Christmas,” Jackson said Tuesday while standing in front of the shop. “It’s impossible. As long as I’m living, we are going to do all we can even for a total stranger.”
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In a report, police said bikes valued at $500 were taken at 4:10 a.m. Tuesday from the parking lot before Jackson came to work. The bicycles were chained together but the thief cut the lock.
The thefts were recorded on a security camera at the business. It shows an unidentified male wearing a white towel on his head as he hurls a jacket over one camera and took several bikes. Jackson said no one has been arrested in the theft but there is a strong possibility on the identity of a suspect.
More than five months before Christmas, Jackson said he really needs to find a secure location to store the bicycles. “It’s just a temporary thing,” he said. “It’s for the community. It’s just a way that an individual can let us use it for the sake of the children.”
Jackson has been restoring and giving away bicycles at Christmas since 2011. If your child is riding down the street on a new bike and you didn’t buy it, Jackson said the parent should ask some questions. “We call that parenting,” he said.
None of the cars at the shop were damaged or stolen during the theft of bicycles. Anyone with information on the stolen bicycles should contact the police. “I’m not discouraged,” Jackson said.
News of the thefts spread quickly in the community. Many people stopped by the shop to talk about the incident or get information on possible repairs.
“A little child came by this morning and said daddy, ‘“Am I still going to get a bike? A bicycle perhaps doesn’t mean that much to you and I but to a child, it means a lot.”
Tuesday night, Jackson said he and his staff will remain vigilant to prevent more thefts. “We are going to maintain the same standards of security but don’t be surprised,” he said. “We are not going to hurt no one’s child because I have a child or children, but I will not let you stand around and have at it. We are going to be more vigilant.”