Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Beloved bike brought back

Police recover property after seven years

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Feeling lucky today?

Probably not as lucky as Wayne Selby or, for that matter, the Winnipeg Police Service.

Back in mid-June, I wrote a series of columns that centred on how police don't seem to treat bike theft as a priority. The columns, three in succession, landed like body blows to the police service's image.

The last one included a question that rhetorically asked how much police really care about finding and returning your stolen bike.

It was a question, and an issue, thousands of bike-theft victims could relate to and did.

Among them was a semi-retired teacher named Wayne Selby, who was "intrigued" by the series. At first it was because, like all those others, he knew what it was like to have a bike stolen; in his case from a locked shed in the backyard of the Norwood Flats home where he lived at the time.

A rider on Wayne's home-insurance policy allowed him to recover $600 of the original $1,000 cost and, perhaps fearing the seemingly inevitable next theft, he used some of the money to buy a less-expensive model.

But, just as if he were a little boy and that was his first bike, Wayne never got over the loss, or the feeling of riding it. Even though he was 54 when it was stolen and now he is 61. Even after all those years.

As I was saying, the columns on bike theft brought that feeling shared by so many victims of bike-theft crime.

But, it was the timing of what police would soon bring back to Wayne that prompted a less common feeling.

And outcome.

Within a matter of days after he had finished reading that last column on how little police seem to care about recovering stolen bikes, Wayne received a phone call.

The voice on the other end of the line belonged to Det.-Sgt. David Clayton, the head of the police pawn shop detail.

Later, Wayne recalled how Clayton started the conversation.

"He said, 'Did you have a bike stolen on June 5, 2005?' I said, 'I sure did.' "

Then the detective asked if he wanted it back.

"I said, 'Absolutely.' "

What Wayne doesn't remember is exactly when Clayton added the bonus that made a great story into an amazing one. The bike had been brought into the Atlas Pawn Shop on June 5.

Seven years to the day after Wayne had reported it stolen.

"I was thrilled," a still thrilled Wayne Selby recalled week.

So was Clayton, and constables Glenn McConnell and Glen Zelenewich, who comprise the rest of the police pawn shop detail.

I suspect it's a story Atlas Pawn Shop owner Jason Schinkarik is proud to tell, too, because of his own part in the remarkable recovery. Pawn shop owners are required by a city bylaw to take a photo of all items received and provide police with a full description, including the serial number.

Clayton explained how it works.

"These reports are electronically sent to our unit every day, loaded into our computer system, and then checked against the CPIC system and the WPS computer system. Serial number hits are then investigated by the pawn unit."

It was because Wayne had recorded his bike's serial number he got it back. Although it wasn't quite as simple as that.

The insurance company that had paid him $600 when it was stolen was the legal owner of the bike, and they wanted Wayne to pay $150 for it in its depreciated state.

It was Clayton who told him that sounded like too much.

Try $100.

So he did.

And with the extra effort of police property evidence technician Tim Mikolash -- who expedited the filling out of forms -- the insurance company accepted the $100 and Wayne was able to take his bike home, all in one day.

"I was very impressed with our police service, Sgt. Clayton, the property evidence department and with our system of justice," Wayne said.

He was also impressed with the shape the bike was in, given all the years they spent apart, because as soon as he got it home, he took his long lost companion for a ride.

Like a little boy with his first bike.

Which brings me to why I'm so pleased Wayne contacted me.

It's a wonderful feeling when that bike wheel of fortune lands on your space. Especially an extra lucky seven years to the day, later.

But it's also a wonderful feeling to be able to give police the credit they deserve, when they deserve it. And they deserve it way more often than any of us will ever know.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 2, 2012 0

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