LEWISTON — The signs in front of the Hogan Road house simply read, “Would you please bring back our new bikes that we got for Christmas — thank you.”
The signs were written and signed by Austin Westleigh, 13, and his 10-year-old sister, Kelsey — both of whom had only a day to enjoy their presents before they were stolen from behind a fence in front of their house — a day after Christmas.
The children’s mother, Vicky, said daughter Kelsey was ecstatic to receive the bike.
“Kelsey said, ‘My bike works really great, Mom — it’ll be really great for the Dempsey Challenge.’ That’s what she wanted,” Westleigh said, a bike that would allow her to comfortably ride in the charity event.
That evening, “she parked it right out in front of the steps, right there,” Westleigh said. “My son came home about 7:30 p.m. and put it right there, and we got busy and we forgot to put them away. We got up the next morning and they were gone.”
“They were really disappointed,” Westleigh said.
Westleigh said her daughter Kelsey apologized repeatedly for the theft.
“And I’d start crying again, making me feel so bad for her,” she said.
“(Austin) is like, ‘I don’t believe people do this stuff on Christmas,'” she said, “but they do — they don’t think about kids.
“My husband passed away a few years ago,” said Westleigh, who has since been unable to continue her nursing career due to a medical condition, making things even harder.
The bikes were an extravagance — but one Westleigh planned as a big surprise for her kids.
For a month, Westleigh said she secreted the bikes’ location between her garage and her neighbor’s shed until Christmas.
According to Westleigh, the two 30-speed blue bikes are easily identifiable to her as both have small scratches on them from her covert mission of keeping them undetected. Austin’s bike also has an “M” on the Mongoose brand seat. Kelsey’s handlebars flare out at the ends.
“It’s just been a really bad week — it’s Christmas,” she said. “We lost our cat — our cat got hit Christmas Day, and it’s (Austin’s) birthday Christmas Day.
“I’m hoping that someone will bring them back,” Westleigh said, unconcerned with who stole them or seeking legal action, “so the kids can have them and enjoy their Christmas presents.”
Westleigh said she doesn’t know if it’s a case of youth mischief or someone looking to sell the bikes, but she’s seen a recent rise in trouble in the normally quiet Hogan Road neighborhood. Her neighbor’s bicycle has gone missing as well, she said.
To add to theft, Westleigh’s neighbors have also experienced vandalism.
“My neighbor came down this morning and told me someone had had taken their baby Jesus from their nativity scene and they cut the cord on it — they actually cut the cord.”