ST. LOUIS – Surveillance video obtained by FOX 2 shows a thief entering a Central West End parking garage and stealing a disabled man’s specialized tricycle.
Cycling is a passion for Charlie Schaflein. The 72-year-old struggles with a debilitating case of rheumatoid arthritis, and his recumbent bike is not only his connection to his cycling-friendly neighborhood, it’s also an escape from the limitations of his condition.
“It’s a vehicle I can get on and ride myself. I don’t need any help to operate it,” he said. “It’s just nice riding around the neighborhood. It’s a good form of exercise for me.”
Schaflein last rode the trike a couple of Sundays ago. It was stolen the following morning, just before 4 a.m.
The suspect got into the parking garage of the Orion Apartments in the Central West End. Surveillance video shows the suspect cutting through the chains on a locked-up bicycle and stealing it.
The surveillance video shows the thief walking across the apartments’ fourth-floor pool deck. About 10 minutes later, he rode the stolen bike right past the recumbent tricycle, which was covered with a sheet. He left the bike, walked back to the trike, uncovered it, hopped on, and pedaled his way out of the garage; down one floor, then the next.
When the thief was unable to get past the solid gate on the second floor of the garage, he tossed Schaflein’s extended orange safety flag and dragged the trike down the stairway.
The orange flag is all Schaflein has left of his $3,000 bike. The thief was last seen pedaling the trike on West Pine headed for Kingshighway.
“If he gets caught, I’d probably like to see him do some community service,” Schaflein said. “I just have no respect for anyone who takes something from somebody else. You can’t have anything without somebody wanting to take it. That’s what burns me.”
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is investigating the theft. Meanwhile, the Central West End Security Initiative is offering a $500 reward for the trike’s return.
“I’d be grateful,” Schaflein said.