Over $10,000 worth of bikes and other supplies were stolen from the Conkey Cruisers Neighborhood Bicycling Program’s storage units Friday, June 26.
Yet, in response to the theft, several local organizations and community members pulled together, and recently donated new bikes to the program.
Conkey Cruisers founder Theresa Bowick also held her own bicycle collection drive Thursday, July 2, at Conkey Corner Park, in order to begin replacing the stolen items. In addition, she’s started a GoFundMe campaign at http://www.gofundme.com/y3jb34w.
Previously, police said the thief, or thieves, used a blowtorch to break the units’ locks, and took 150 bikes, bike locks, a generator, and other equipment in the process.
Rochester Police Department officials discovered about 25 of the bikes June 28, near the corner of Evergreen St. and Conkey Ave.; however, police said they were badly broken, and no longer capable of being used.
Bowick said she felt sorry that the thieves felt the need to commit the crime.
“To the people that decided to break into our storage unit, to take all of our bicycles, and all the things we need to run our program; I want you to know that I love you, and that God loves you more,” she stated. “And, I am so sorry that life’s circumstances took you to a place where you needed to do those types of things to a neighborhood program.”
Bowick, a registered nurse who is currently studying to receive her doctorate from St. John Fisher College’s school of nursing, said she founded the program in 2012, in an effort to promote a culture of good health, and a positive view of exercise in the community.
The program has allowed both kids and adults to use the bikes for structured rides, during a program she provides for six-weeks during the summer.
In addition, according to reports, First lady Michelle Obama has also recently recognized Conkey Cruisers as part of her national “Let’s Move Campaign,” a program Obama designed to promote healthy eating, and exercise, among youth.
Ernest Flagler-Mitchell, Bowick’s friend and a Monroe County Legislator, said he also supports the program, and he arrived at the scene Friday as soon as he heard of the theft.
“It’s sad that, when people try to help the community, and try to change the course of the community, you have some that come out, and try to destroy that dream,” Flagler-Mitchell stated. “But, you know, I believe that God is going to prevail here, and that Conkey Cruisers; this is just a stepping stone for them to go to the next level. And, I am hoping that we are able to find the people that have taken the bikes, and whatever else has been taken out of these shelters, and bring justice. Not just for Conkey Cruisers, but for the community. I believe in the work of the Conkey Cruisers. Changing the culture of what our people understand, it’s huge for the development of our communities.”
Interested parties may contact Bowick at (585) 730-0295 to learn more about the program, or to find out ways to donate.