Stolen bike returned to Burbank boy with cerebral palsy
Burbank police on Thursday recovered a specially modified bike belonging to a 13-year-old boy with cerebral palsy, five days after it was stolen from his garage.
After a whirlwind of media coverage on the theft, the boy’s mom, Allesha Jeffries, got a phone call Thursday afternoon from police, asking if she was home.
The officers were outside her Burbank apartment complex, asking if she could come down to identify a bike spotted on the side of a road in Silver Lake by a woman who had seen the news the night before.
“I ran down there, I opened the door, and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, it’s it, it’s it,’” Jeffries said. “‘It’s beat up, but it’s it.’”
Forensic investigators came by shortly after to pull fingerprints, as the thief remains at large.
Police on Wednesday released surveillance photos of the suspect, who was caught on camera wheeling the bike out of the complex. The bike had been locked up in the garage with the boy’s wheelchair, scooter and the bike trailer.
The $5,300 Berkel bike, which needs to be repaired, was customized two years ago for 13-year-old Damian “DJ” Jeffries. It featured a now-missing calf support device that helped straighten Damian’s right leg, which turns in.
With his mom’s help, Damian rode the bike a couple times a week — sometimes just to a restaurant down the street. The goal, she said, is for him to be independent enough to ride to and from school on his own.
Before the bike was recovered, Jeffries launched an online crowd-funding campaign, which overnight generated more than $1,300 for a replacement bike. That money will now go toward the bike’s repairs.
Friends and strangers shared the family’s story on social media, and one local attorney even offered to fully fund a replacement bike.
“The outpouring of support has totally outweighed the negative part of this whole thing,” Allesha Jeffries said. “I don’t even know how you begin to thank people.”
Finances have been tight, as Jeffries, a single mother who works as a nurse, was unemployed for two years, due to a shoulder injury.
“It’s been rough,” she said, adding that she’s been back at work now for about six months. “Anybody who has a special needs child knows.”
To purchase the bike two years ago, Damian applied for and received two grants, which together came out to $3,500, and raised an additional $1,800 by appealing to family and friends.
While Damian was thrilled to have his bike back, he had some choice words for the person who took it and left it damaged.
“He’s a jerk, he really is,” Damian said. “He’s the lowest of the low.”
The man suspected of stealing the bike was described as Caucasian or Hispanic, in his mid-30s, roughly 5 feet 9 and about 170 pounds. He wore a black hooded jacket, a black and white beanie, and dark jeans.
Anyone with information on the suspect is asked to call Burbank Police Det. Aaron Kay at (818) 238-3210. To remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.