Thieves return tandem bike to Vancouver couple with apology note

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian breaking news reporter

Published:

 

For a pair of tandem cyclists, it’s been a roller coaster week.

On Monday, Courtney and Harly Forbes discovered their tandem bike had been stolen from their porch. On Tuesday, complete strangers gave them a bike worth more than four times the one they had lost. But the biggest turn of events came Wednesday, when the thief returned the stolen bike — and included an apology note.

“It’s been an emotional and exhausting experience,” said Courtney’s mother, Kimberlee Turner.

Part of the reason why is that the bike is more than a means to exercise for the Vancouver couple. Because both Courtney and Harly Forbes are developmentally delayed, they rely on the bike as their way to maintain their independence.

When Turner left for work about 7:45 a.m. Wednesday, she was surprised by what she saw when she opened her door: a man dropping the stolen bike in her yard.

In the midst of the confusion, her immediate reaction was to yell thank you.

“I was shocked. Here’s this guy returning it,” Turner said, adding that she didn’t get a very good look at the man before he ran off. “Obviously, I don’t appreciate that he stole from my family. But I do appreciate that he thought enough of my family to bring it back.”

The note he left behind reads: “I bring this back 2 you, because I am truly sorry and hope you can forgive me. I am trying to do the right thing.”

If the thief’s intentions were genuine, Turner said, she and her family would forgive the man who signed the apology note “Guilty.”

“Everybody makes mistakes in their lives,” she said. “I don’t know what his intentions were, if he got scared and wanted to return it because there was no way they could ever sell it … or if he genuinely felt guilty. I hope he genuinely felt guilty and this had that big of an impact on him.”

Despite the fact that the thief returned the bike, the gesture doesn’t halt the police investigation.

“It doesn’t change anything in regard to pursuit of charges,” Vancouver Police Department spokeswoman Kim Kapp said.

She admits, though, that this case has been particularly unique.

“Not only did they return the property, they left a message,” Kapp said. “I cannot recall anything like this in my years at the department.”

Even with the good intentions, Turner said, the returned bike was damaged beyond use.

In a phone call with Richard and Jackie Riordan on Wednesday, though, the Salmon Creek couple made their intentions clear: The custom-made tandem they had given the couple Tuesday was theirs to keep.

“There have been a lot of blessings out of this,” Turner said.

Emily Gillespie: 360-735-4522; http://www.twitter.com/col_cops; emily.gillespie@columbian.com.