'It's heartbreaking': 12 adult, children bikes stolen from Matthew House Windsor

In a Sunday Facebook post, Matthew House said the bikes were "used and treasured not just for fun, but for transportation for our adult refugees."

The bikes were sometimes used as transportation for adult refugees

Four young men allegedly stole at least 12 adult and children bicycles from Matthew House Windsor, a local refugee welcome centre. Footage from a Matthew House security camera didn't capture the faces of the alleged perpetrators, but shows the theft in progress. 0:39

At least 12 adult and children bicycles have been stolen from refugee welcome centre Matthew House Windsor.

Matthew House executive director Mike Morency said security camera footage from Sunday morning showed four young men were responsible for walking away with the bicycles. 

"One young man grabbed one in each hand and one over a shoulder, and they laughed," said Morency. "They came back five minutes later and got another trip."

Morency said the alleged perpetrators seemed to know to keep their faces away from the security camera.

"We have footage but it's of their sides and backs and clothes," he said. "All that information has been given to the police."

Morency suspects that the alleged thieves had visited Matthew House in the past, to scope out the property. He said he's not hopeful that the stolen bikes will be returned. 

"Realistically, the bikes are gone," he said. 

According to Morency, adult refugees used the bikes as an important form of transportation.

"The adult refugees use these bikes to get back and forth to work, to get to doctor's appointments, lawyer's appointments, and they don't have that opportunity now," he said. 

Morency said the theft is both heartbreaking and angering. 

"It's heartbreaking because nobody steals because it's just fun, there's something going on," he said. "So those young men, there's something going and that's just heartbreaking."

On the other hand, Morency said the theft is angering because the bicycles themselves were donations that a "young man from the [University of Windsor] … spent the last six weeks fixing up."

Morency added that the alleged thieves only stole repaired bicycles. 

"We still have a dozen or so broken ones that they gladly left us, but all the ones that he spent hours and hours fixing up are the ones that they took," he said. 

'Several bikes stolen every single day'

Oliver Swainson, one of the co-founders of the Stolen Bikes of Windsor Facebook page, explained that his group regularly sees "several bikes stolen every single day."

He said that, based on the number of posts the page receives each day, at least one bike is stolen each day. 

"Some days it's quieter than others, but other days there's many, many bikes [getting stolen]," said Swainson, who also serves as the mechanical education coordinator at Bike Windsor-Essex.

Swainson said it's difficult to determine what happens to stolen bikes in the city. 

"The ones that are retrieved are just showing up with random other people finding them," he said.

Some of the bikes that do find their way back to their owner typically do so after being resold once or twice, according to Swainson. 

Listen to Oliver Swainson's conversation with Tony Doucette on Windsor Morning below:

Another day, Another stolen bike...that seems like the norm these days in Windsor Tony speaks with Oliver Swainson, of the Facebook group Stolen Bikes of Windsor. 9:05

"It's not always the bike thief who ends up getting the bike," said Swainson. "It's one person losing their bike, then the thief selling it off to someone."

Swainson estimated that less one in 10 bikes are retrieved by their original owner. 

As for the kinds of bikes that end up getting stolen, Swainson said "by and large, the deluge of bikes that are getting stolen are all relatively low-end bikes."

With files from Tom Addison and Tony Smythe


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