FAIRVIEW PARK, Ohio — Newly-released video shows a suspect moments after he used bolt cutters to steal a padlocked bicycle belonging to a local man with autism.
The suspect appears to be wearing a yellow safety jacket and a construction hard hat, as he rode the stolen bike from Savers Thrift Store, where the victim works, to the RTA Transit Center on Center Ridge Road.
“It may have been a crime of opportunity, but their plan was to steal a bike that day. They brought the tools with them, and they succeeded,” said Fairview Park Police Lt. Paul Shepard.
The victim of the theft, 25-year-old Jon Keith, has two jobs and works more than 60 hours a week.
He relies on his bicycle for transportation, and that’s why he was so upset when the bike was stolen. Jon told FOX 8, “For someone to do something like this means that they have very low self-esteem and this is how they choose to live their life by taking from others.”
For Jon’s parents, the theft of the bike is the kind of setback they have dealt with before and the kind of problem that they pray their son doesn’t have to face again. “It was an extreme disappointment to hear the upset in his voice, and it was just very hurtful. My son does have autism and he’s seen the cruelness in society and in folks,” said Jon’s father, Ted Keith.
Since FOX 8 News first aired the story on Tuesday night, dozens of Northeast Ohioans have contacted the station and Fairview Park Police, with offers to buy Jon a new bike.
“It’s been absolutely amazing. The police department called with folks that would like to meet him at the bike store,” said Ted Keith.
There are so many people willing to help that the family decided to establish a GoFundMe page to collect donations for a new bike, and a lock that will ward off thieves.
“What a positive life –the outpouring of help, that people would like to help him, and get back on his wheels,” said Ted Keith. “There’s a lot of caring quality people in Northeast Ohio.”