Community Rallies To Replace Bicycle Stolen From Disabled 6-Year-Old

By Tamas Mondovics

Bike theft is a common crime, but when Hillsborough County District Four deputies learned about the theft of a disabled child’s hand-peddled trike from her home in Riverview, the case got some extra attention.

Deputies worked hard to track down the person who stole the trike that belonged to 6-year-old Deshawn Pitts, which was originally provided to her by Shriners at a value of more than $500.

According to deputies, the trike was taken from a front foyer on Kings Ave. in Brandon on June 3 or 4.

While continuing to search for the trike as well as the thief, District Four deputies joined forces with members of the Riverview community, including the Riverview Chamber of Commerce and the First Baptist Church, to raise funds and purchase a new trike from Brandon Bike Works, whose staff also assembled it.

Less than a month after the theft, Four deputies presented Deshawn a brand new trike.

“It was a pleasure to help out this little girl and also provided a great opportunity for the community to pull together,” said HCSO District Four Major Rob Bullara. This case touched everyone’s heart.”

HCSO Riverview Community Service Officer Barbara Jones spearheaded the fundraising effort with help from HCSO Riverview Community Resource Deputy, Cliff Fletcher.

Deputies said, traditionally, bicycle theft has been viewed by law enforcement as a relatively low priority. However, due to the increases in overall usage, criminal statistics show that nationally, the problem of bicycle theft is on the rise and needs to be addressed.

Hillsborough County is no exception. Between 1990 and 2011, there was a 67% increase in bicycle commuting in Tampa.

“The best way to prevent bike theft is by locking garage doors,” Bullara said. Residents can register their bicycle with the Bicycle Registration Program by completing the registration form and submitting it to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

A registration number will be assigned to each bicycle and the information is entered into HCSO’s records management system.

“Simply by registering your bicycle, you are helping to deter bicycle theft.” he said.

For more information about bike registration, visit www.hcso.tampa.fl.us.