A Saskatoon girl with spina bifida can only get around in her wheelchair after thieves stole her modified bicycles.
Amber Owens, mother of 12-year-old Tawteanna, told Global News the bikes represented freedom for the girl. They are equipped with straps and a harness to keep her stable.
“They’re for her to get out and go (do) what she wants to do and have fun,” Owens said.
Saskatoon police have taken to social media in hopes of finding the three-wheeled bikes. A police Facebook post said the theft took place between Sunday at 4 p.m. and Tuesday at 10 a.m. in the 1000 block of Avenue J South.
“These bikes are very costly to acquire, but useless to anyone besides the owner. The bikes are custom to the girl’s size and needs,” the post reads.
The bikes were stored at Tawteanna’s grandparents’ house. Grant Owens said he’d gone outside to mow the lawn when he noticed the bikes were missing. The thieves left one wheel behind.
The fences were locked, as were the bikes.
“What kind of idiot would steal a special needs bike from a disabled child?” he said.
It’s the second time the girl has fallen victim to thieves after one of her bikes was stolen on April 30.
Grant, who has worked in the cycling industry, said one of the bikes costs over $6,000, while the other two are valued at $650 and $500.
They’re of little use to a person without a disability, he said.
He hopes to find a replacement, but said it won’t be available until next month. Meanwhile, his granddaughter is upset.
“She couldn’t understand why somebody would steal a special needs bike,” Grant said.
The thievery is getting tiresome.
Tawteanna plays wheelchair basketball with the Saskatchewan Wheelchair Sports Association. In 2017, thieves got away with 34 specialized wheelchairs in a utility trailer.
Police later found 20 of the chairs on a property near Dalmeny. Two men were charged with possessing stolen property.
The Owens family hopes for a similar outcome with their case.
“Please return them. My granddaughter needs these bikes.”
Anyone with information can call Saskatoon police at 306-975-8300 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.