Monday morning, two boys rode their bikes to Payson High School in a hurry to get to class. In their haste, they forgot the key to the lock the friends shared. This was the first time they left their bikes unlocked. It also was the last. Before the first hour of school was over, both bikes were gone.
As adults, it's easy to say, "Hey, hard lesson learned. Don't leave your bikes unlocked." But there is another lesson these and other children are learning, and it's a sad one. One that teaches them, "You can't trust anybody, not for a minute."
It shouldn't be that way, at least not here in the Rim country. This is a community where we are still small enough to look after one another, especially our children.
Most of us can remember how important our bikes were when we were young. For these two 14-year-old boys, their bikes are a huge part of their lives. They represent freedom and independence.
For one of the boys, his single mother of three cannot afford to purchase another bike. The other boy earned his bike by working and saving money for more than a year. Both were top-end BMX-style bikes.
But the money is not as valuable as another lesson this community could teach our youth: there are good people out there in the world. There are honest people you can trust, and who care about doing what's right. There are people in our community who are willing to speak up if they know of a crime or have information that can lead to justice.
According to the Police Chief Gordon Gartner, 34 bikes were stolen in 2002, and 16 so far this year.
"With bikes of this value, ($600 to $1,000), the criminals usually know exactly what they are and target them," Gartner said. "Kids need to report these crimes and call us occasionally to have us check the impound. Residents also can register their bikes with the police department."
It's true these boys shouldn't have left their bikes unlocked, but that is not a crime, only a mistake. The crime was committed by those who took something that didn't belong to them.
Maybe it's good for our children to learn a hard lesson that there's a cold cruel world out there, but it would be better for them to learn lessons of compassion and trust from a community that cares.
Anyone with information about these bikes, call Officer Steve Montgomery at the Payson Police Department, 474-5177: Red Haro Shredder with black knee-saver bars and a ripped seat; Orange DK General Lee with clear handle bar grips.