One bike theft on Kauai. No big deal, right? After all, it’s estimated around 1 million bicycles are stolen each year in the United States — likely much higher because most bike thefts aren’t reported to police. Bikes disappear daily from outside homes, businesses, stores, restaurants, schools, and yes, churches.
Some of them were left unlocked. Some were locked. Some were expensive, some were junkers. Bicycles are easy targets. Gone in a few seconds. So again, why should anyone care about one stolen bike on Kauai?
Well, if that bike was yours, it stings.
Just ask Joshua Kristall.
The 18-year-old from Waimea figured it would be safe to leave his bike for a night, unguarded, on hallowed grounds outside a church.
He returned to the front door of Hanapepe United Church of Christ Wednesday morning to find his Shigematsu bike, his primary source of transportation, gone.
The theft felt like a punch in the gut.
“It’s right there at a church of all places, a church,” Kristall said. “That’s the kicker.”
The Waimea High senior bought the black mountain bike, new, for about $300 a year ago and upgraded it with a rearview mirror on the left handlebar and other parts.
It served him well as he pedaled around the island, especially when he was riding it from his home in Waimea to his job in Kalaheo, 25 miles round-trip, twice a week.
When the family car broke down, the bike was pretty much how he got back and forth to school, the store or to visit a friend.
“He works so hard saving money and he was so proud of himself when he bought the mountain bike,” said his mom, Tereza Kristall.
Joshua Kristall attended a meeting in Hanapepe Tuesday evening. Because he had to be back in Waimea for another appointment that night, he accepted an offer of a ride and left his bike near the church front entrance, believing it would “surely be safe at a church.” When he returned Wednesday, he was dismayed to find it wasn’t where he left it.
After asking around, with hopes it had just been moved, he was disappointed when he realized it had been taken.
“It’s pretty critical to me,” he said. “It was my single mode of transportation. That bike was my one source of getting from point A to point B.”
Without it, Kristall retrieved a skateboard out of storage, a short board, and is traveling around Waimea on it. Still, he’d rather be on two wheels and hopes to get the bike back.
“That would be great,” Kristall said.
Many will say Josh was foolish to leave his bike unlocked, that he shouldn’t be surprised someone took it and just needs to be more careful and a little less trusting. What was he thinking, leaving a bike just sitting there out in the open?
That’s an invitation to a thief, they say. Sadly, there are plenty of thieves around waiting for their opportunity to take what doesn’t belong to them and this was just one of many.
No, with all that goes on this world and on Kauai, we can’t expect anyone to get too fired up over one bike theft. We don’t expect everyone to start looking out for that bike. We don’t expect the community to be upset.
But Josh Kristall, and all victims of theft, wouldn’t mind if we did.
Anyone with information can reach Joshua Kristall at firstname.lastname@example.org.