Roughly $90,000 worth of specialty bikes were stolen from Challenge Alaska this month, causing the nonprofit to pause some of the athletic programs it offers to individuals living with disabilities.
Three of the 15 bikes stolen last weekend had been recovered by Thursday morning, according to the Anchorage Police Department. It isn’t clear when they might be returned.
The equipment was stolen from the nonprofit’s Anchorage location sometime between late July 21 and early July 22, Challenge Alaska executive director Nate Boltz said. The locks had been forcibly removed from a large metal shipping container that stored the bikes, according to police.
Some of the stolen bikes were distinctive hand-pedal bikes made for people who have spinal cord injuries. Challenge Alaska had received the cycles recently, Boltz said, and they took about a year to be manufactured and delivered. Some of the other stolen bikes were road and mountain bikes used for the disabled veterans riding program.
The equipment was purchased through donations and grant funding, Boltz said.
“We’re absolutely devastated, not only for those individuals that we provide services to, but for the community as a whole because this equipment was hard-earned through the generosity of others, primarily,” he said.
“Quite frankly, we’re heartbroken,” he added. “It represented a very significant portion of our overall, especially adaptive, cycling fleet, and it greatly impairs our ability to provide programming here in the near term.”
The veterans cycling programs were placed on hold, and there’s only enough equipment remaining to outfit one person using the adaptive mountain bikes, Boltz said.
Anchorage police located some of the equipment Wednesday night, the police department said in an online update.
Officers saw a woman who was wanted on a probation violation on Pine Street in northeast Anchorage around 7 p.m., police said. The woman fled into a home and refused to come out, but officers entered after they received permission from the homeowner, police said. She was arrested on a probation violation charge and also charged with a misdemeanor for resisting arrest, according to police.
While inside the home, officers saw the stolen bikes and obtained a search warrant, police said. Detectives interviewed 31-year-old Andrew Jordan, who also lived at the home, and police said they determined that Jordan was involved in burglarizing Challenge Alaska.
The motive for the burglary is under investigation, police spokeswoman Renee Oistad said. It’s possible additional people were involved in the burglary, she said. The investigation is ongoing.
Oistad said she didn’t know when the three bikes that were recovered would be returned to Challenge Alaska. Boltz said he hadn’t heard from a detective by Thursday afternoon and found out about the arrest through the police department’s online statement. He also said he didn’t know which three bikes had been recovered.
Boltz said he’s grateful the bikes were recovered and hopeful the others will be located soon. At some point, Challenge Alaska will have to figure out how to replace the gear if it isn’t found. Boltz hopes the mountain and road bikes could be easily replaced in order to keep those programs running, but the specialty hand-pedal bikes would likely take time to order.
“We just ask that people keep a keen eye out for the remaining equipment,” he said. “As soon as we find out what has been recovered, we’ll spread awareness on what to keep looking for, but would just ask the people remain diligent in helping find this equipment and bringing those responsible for its loss, making sure they’re held accountable for their actions.”