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Tuesday, March 19 , 2019, 6:22 pm | Overcast 56º

 
 
 
 

Bicycle Thefts From Lompoc’s River Bend Bike Park Frustrate Volunteers

9 bikes, tools taken from storage shed at community facility, but 4 bikes are returned mysteriously

The River Bend Bike Park Committee had been storing extra bicycles in a storage shed at the Lompoc park so children without bikes would have an opportunity to ride. Nine bikes were stolen from the shed last week. Click to view larger
The River Bend Bike Park Committee had been storing extra bicycles in a storage shed at the Lompoc park so children without bikes would have an opportunity to ride. Nine bikes were stolen from the shed last week. (River Bend Bike Park Committee file photo)

Several bikes stored at Lompoc’s River Bend Bike Park — and used by children who don’t have their own rides — have been stolen, frustrating the enthusiastic group that built and maintains the site.

In a pair of separate thefts, nine bikes were taken from the Lompoc bike park’s storage shed.

“It’s a bummer the bikes are gone, but it’s more of a bummer because it really hurts the spirit,” said Dave Baker, Bike Park Committee chairman. “That’s what’s is extremely hard.”

Four bicycles were returned Saturday as mysteriously as they disappeared, but five others remain missing.

“While I am thankful for the return of four of the bikes, we have learned that we have to be more aware of the possibility of theft and destruction of park property,” said Gilbert Navarro Jr., a Bike Park Committee member.

“I am hoping the people responsible also repair the damage to the fence.”

In one instance, thieves used a small saw to get access. Some critical tools for maintenance also were taken.

“It’s just unfortunate because there’s a small amount of us trying to take care of the park,” Baker said. “It takes a lot of work and we just don’t have time for this.”

Instead of completing maintenance chores at the site, Baker ended up filing a police report and dealing with the aftermath of the thefts.

The stolen bicycles were valued between $200 to $800 each, he said.

The bikes kept on site were for families who do not have them or don’t have enough for all of their children.

Empty hooks line the storage shed at River Bend Bike Park after thieves made off with nine bicycles that were hanging there. Click to view larger
Empty hooks line the storage shed at River Bend Bike Park after thieves made off with nine bicycles that were hanging there. (River Bend Bike Park Committee photo)

While people volunteered to donate replacement bikes, Baker said the committee is declining for now.

Instead, the focus has fallen on beefing up security even more and adding security cameras, with an eye toward finding a solar-powered surveillance system to ensure equipment monitors the entire park.

They also need to replace stolen tools used for maintaining the property.

The bike park is operated by a nonprofit organization and also has a sponsorship program, with key donors recognized via banners.

In addition to cash, donors also can give Home Depot gift cards volunteers use to buy supplies and tools for the bike park.

“It really hurts the spirit and motivation of doing good for others,” Baker said. “We’re going to keep providing a free-to-ride bike park for the community. However, it can’t be done without community help.”

The park, which opened in 2015, draws riders from as far away as San Luis Obispo County, Ventura and Bakersfield.

“We committee members are working so hard to give back to our community with the River Bend Bike Park,” Navarro said. “I just don’t understand why many of our problems have popped up.

“But, with the bike and Lompoc community standing with us, hopefully, we will be able to ‘tighten up’ our security in order to lessen the stress associated with the daily concerns of the bike park,” he added. “We love Lompoc.”

Once a month — from 8 a.m. to noon on the first Sunday — volunteers gather at the park to perform chores such as weeding, maintaining trails and removing rocks. However, committee members often can be found doing work at the site on other days.

“We have a small group of dedicated volunteers and we need a lot more,” Baker said.

While temporarily disappointed at the thefts, he said the setback doesn’t detract from the unique park developed through a grassroots effort by volunteers.

“It doesn’t take away from the fact we’ve got really good awesome place for families to ride,” Baker said.

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Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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