Good police work took on an extra special meaning Friday for a Farmington Hills boy, whose bicycle was recently stolen.
Erik Saperstein, 13, thought he was going to answer more questions about the theft of his mountain bike – which he had paid for himself with money earned from umpiring baseball games – when Detective Dave Newcomb called him down to the police station.
Instead, he was surprised with a brand new Trek bike to replace the one stolen, courtesy of the Farmington Hills Police Department.
“I like it,” grinned Erik, moments after being presented the bike — purchased with money donated by Farmington Hills police officers and their unions. “Thank you so much.”
Newcomb’s heartstrings were tugged when Erik’s case landed on his desk about a month ago. The boy was doing yard work with his grandpa in his backyard when a thief snatched his bike from the garage, at around 8 p.m. on June 15.
“Somebody just came by and stole it,” Newcomb said. “It wasn’t like he was being irresponsible. Someone just walked by and took it.”
It was a pretty nice bike too — retailing for about $360, which required quite a bit of saving up for, especially for a 13-year-old. So Newcomb got the ball rolling to get donations from the police department to buy Erik another, and then called the American Cycle and Fitness store in Walled Lake where the first bike had been purchased. Owners Ken Stonehouse and Michael Reuter fixed them right up, selling it for cost and even throwing in a kickstand, helmet and lock.
“It just made sense to help,” Stonehouse said.
Officer Brian Harbaugh said getting Erik new wheels was a nice way to demonstrate that “police are part of the community, just like he is. We’re all looking out for each other, helping each other out.”
It was also an opportunity to recognize Erik’s efforts to earn enough money for the bike in the first place, he added.
“Here you have a kid who saves up to buy the bike and some jerk steals it from him…we appreciate him working hard and saving for it – like we used to do,” Harbaugh said. “And it makes you feel good (to replace the bike), like you are really giving back to the community.”
Erik said he was “really surprised” to have his bicycle stolen. “I never thought it would happen to me. I guess you never know,” he said.
His mom, Monica Cardenas, had the same reaction. “I was in disbelief. He was doing family chores, being responsible. I just couldn’t believe it,” she said.
Cardenas said Newcomb told her last week about the new bike, which brought her to tears. “And it really helps Erik understand that while there are bad people in the world, there is so much good in this community that he can overcome it.”
Erik said he’s learned a bit more from the experience, too. “Never put a bike in a place where someone can take it,” he said, “and always keep it secure.”