The true colors of the communityWhen the Robertson family’s bicycles were stolen from their yard in Alexandria, they were taken aback; when the community responded with profuse generosity, the Robertsons were simply overwhelmed with gratitude. In early August, Colin Robertson, 17, went to look for his bike when his car was plagued by a flat tire. What he found: Nothing.
By: Leah Stinson, Echo Press Intern, Alexandria Echo Press
When the Robertson family’s bicycles were stolen from their yard in Alexandria, they were taken aback; when the community responded with profuse generosity, the Robertsons were simply overwhelmed with gratitude.
In early August, Colin Robertson, 17, went to look for his bike when his car was plagued by a flat tire.
What he found: Nothing.
His bike had been stolen, along with the bicycles of two of his younger siblings – Colton, 8 and Sadie, 5.
The crook – or crooks – had left the bike of Katy Robertson, 10, alone. Emma Robertson, 12, didn’t own a bike.
The Robertsons don’t know who the perpetrator is, but they’re aware of other cases similar to theirs in the neighborhood and in the community.
Jodi Robertson, the children’s mother, came up with a way to communicate with whoever stole the bikes: A sign.
In her front yard, Jodi planted a sign detailing her feelings regarding the robbery.
“I really just wanted to touch the hearts of the people who stole the bikes,” said Jodi. She wished to engrain the fact that though it may be a “joy ride” for whoever stole the bikes, the victims are left coping with the aftermath.
A number of passersby felt compelled to stop and tell their story or donate money, but one felt called to go above and beyond the rest: Tom-E-Lee.
Tom-E-Lee, owner of the Misfits of Magic shop downtown and a morning DJ on Z99, went around to individual businesses in town in order to help the Robertsons, a family he had never known before.
His humanitarian efforts paid off.
Jake’s Bikes agreed to donate bike locks to the family. Alexandria Bike and Fitness donated helmets. Alex RV and All State Wireless of Alexandria both contributed monetary donations. Walmart agreed to donate one bike with the purchase of two other bikes.
Chris Ford, the general manager at Walmart, noted that he had seen many other similar cases.
“We try to help out all kinds of people,” he said. He recently helped a former employee’s daughter whose bike had been stolen.
Though Colin, Colton and Sadie are perplexed and angry about their stolen bikes, they are excited about their new ones.
As Colton tried out his new green bike Tuesday, he happily said, “I like this one better.”
Sadie found an orange bike she particularly liked. When asked if she would go fast, she confidently responded, “Oh, I will.”
The thievery cut Colin a little deeper. He had owned his old bike for years, and though it wasn’t in the greatest condition, he felt no need for a new bike. Despite this, he was still grateful for his shiny new bike.
Jodi is especially appreciative.
Working four jobs to support her five children, her finances are stretched thin. She couldn’t fathom what she would have done without the help of the community.
“The community coming together to do this is just outstanding,” she said.
Besides realizing the generosity of her fellow citizens, she has learned valuable lessons about security.
She realized that keeping bikes behind fences is not sufficient. She plans to be adamant about using bike locks in the future.
Jodi also hopes her story will inspire the community to help other victims of bike theft.
“I would really like to see a community initiative,” she said. Jodi has been prevented from doing so herself due to time constraints, but hopes another company in the area would be willing and able to sponsor the restoration and storage of old bikes. That way, when someone is unable to recover a stolen bike, they will be able to purchase a cheaper bike through this service.
“It would be nice if there were opportunities for others in the same shoes that I am,” she said.