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Thieves target Kansas City elementary school, steal bikes used in safety program

Posted at 4:41 PM, Oct 16, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-16 19:31:45-04

Thieves cut through multiple locks to steal nine bicycles from Whittier Elementary School on Monday.

The bicycles are used in the B.L.A.S.T. program, or Bicycle Lesson and Safety Training. BikeWalkKC provides this program to four school districts around Kansas City.

“They get to learn how to signal, how to start and stop so they're actually getting physical activity during their PE class on their bikes,” said Maggie Priesmeyer, Education and Outreach Coordinator for BikeWalkKC.

Josue Tijerina is a 5th grader in the program at Whittier Elementary School.

“They tell us about safety and tell us where to ride and where we put our helmet and make sure it's safely on,” he said.

For many of the 5th and 6th graders in the program, this is their first time riding a bicycle.

“We have one little girl, third day in the country from Afghanistan, never been on a bike before and just laughed and giggled, had just the best time,” said Bernadette Fitzpatrick, the physical education teacher.

So to have nine bikes stolen is difficult on the students and the school.

“That's the most upsetting part,” Fitzpatrick said. “We're a neighborhood here and it had to have been somebody who saw us out riding on them. They're beautiful little bikes, bright orange and somebody must have seen an opportunity.”

The trailer holding the 25 bikes was hidden around the side of the school, behind some columns and a locked gate. School officials chose that spot because it’s not easily seen from the street.

“The trailer's always backed against the wall so the doors aren't easily accessible,” said Fitzpatrick.

The thieves cut through the lock on the gate to get in. Then, Fitzpatrick said, they cut all the locks on the trailer, moved it forward and stole 9 bikes. It happened sometime Monday night.

“We used them on Monday,” said Fitzpatrick. “The class came Tuesday and they were broken into.”

For now, the students will get half the time to use the bikes during class because they’ll have to share.

“I just want to say, can you return it because it feels bad for the school,” said Tijerina.

Anyone who has seen the bikes, or has information, can call BikeWalkKC at 816-205-7056.