Thieves take donated bicycles meant for children - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Thieves take donated bicycles meant for children

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

A Columbus mechanic's dream of giving away bicycles to children who need them is under attack.  Over the past week, thieves periodically stole nearly 40 bikes from him and it was all caught on video.

"How do you replace a shattered dream? You cannot.  You just try and start all over again.  It's not right," said Chester Jackson of East Coast Body Shop.

Jackson's vision of fixing and repainting bicycles began when he realized how many children in his community cannot afford them.  He put a sign outside his business and the donations came pouring in.  His plan was to distribute them before Christmas.

"The only thing they have to do is come in and pick up a bicycle.  They are going to be repaired. They are going to be put back in safe working condition, and they are going to be painted, so that one child can receive a bike," said Jackson.

Soon the bicycles started going missing and when Jackson checked his security cameras, he made a shocking discovery.  Almost a third of the bicycles were taken by thieves who returned for them again and again.  Jackson found some of the bicycles abandoned near the sides of roads around town. 

Jackson explained, "They couldn't carry all of them at one time, so they just started leaving them on the street." 

Jackson said he would have gladly given bicycles to all of the people who took them, had they only asked.  But his disappointment doesn't end there.  He holds parents and passersby responsible as well.

"On this particular street, there are cars moving here all night long.  They saw this activity going on.  Not one stopped and said, 'Don't do that,' but the instant they go to jail, they'll say, 'My child didn't do it.'  Oh yes he did.  And you know why they did? You didn't stop him," said Jackson.

Now that so many are gone, he is worried that he won't have enough for the children that were already promised.  Jackson has pledged not to give up and he will continue working hard to ensure the Christmas wishes of many children in Columbus are fulfilled.

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