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My Turn: Getting my stolen wheels back? Like riding a bike

Russ Mulroy in 1953.

Russ Mulroy in 1953. Credit: Marie Mulroy

The year was 1953. Ike was in the White House, and on TV we watched Superman and Davy Crockett. I wore a coonskin cap just like Davy’s and a six-gun on my hip like my hero, Shane. I lived in Long Beach, a great little city by the sea.

One particular Saturday afternoon, our movie house, the Laurel Theater, was playing "House of Wax" in 3D. It was a scary movie we’d all seen as a coming attraction the week before, and we all wanted to go.

I bought a box of Good & Plenty for a nickel and entered the Laurel for three hours of scary-good fun. We all sat upfront, in the first row, and laughed at how dumb we all looked wearing the new 3D glasses.

As I walked out of the Laurel into the sunshine, I realized something was amiss as I approached the bicycle rack. My bike was not there. It had been stolen! Cannot be, I thought.

In disbelief I walked to the police station to report the theft. I entered the station and walked up to the duty sergeant.

"Somebody stole my bike from the movie theater," I explained to the officer, who took down all my information.

"If we hear anything, we’ll be in touch," he said as he peered down at me from his sergeant’s perch.

I remembered something, and I told the officer, "I etched my initials ‘RM’ into the bottom of the crossbar just in case."

He took note and I left, walking the few blocks home. Once there, I told my mother, who was very understanding.

"I’m sure the police will find it," she said. "It’s only a bike, Russ."

I had my doubts.

About a year later, I was walking back from the boardwalk when I spotted a bike sitting alone on the sidewalk in front of an apartment building about a block away. Something about this bike rang a bell with me, though this bike was white — not black like mine had been.

As I got closer, I could see that the bike appeared to have been spray-painted; some of the parts were still black on the underside.

Could it be? I wondered.

I quickly picked it up and turned it over. Sure enough, there was "RM" staring back at me. I had found my bike.

I jumped on the bike and rode it to the police station.

"I remember you," said the sergeant.

"I found my bike," I told him, turning it over to show him the "RM," my initials etched on the underside.

Just then, his phone rang. "Yes, I think we have your bike here in the station, sir," the officer said. "Ten minutes? OK."

He turned to me and said, "Wait here."

Soon enough, a father and son entered the precinct — and immediately saw me standing with the bike. The father of the apparent bicycle thief had called to report his son’s bike had been stolen, and here they were now, 10 minutes later.

The officer asked me to repeat how I knew it was my bike. Gladly, I showed where my initials were etched under the crossbar.

The sergeant turned to me. "You can leave with your bike now," he said, quickly turning back to the father and son. "You two remain here. I need to speak with you both."

I never found out what happened to that kid and his father that afternoon, but at least I had my "Black Beauty" back.

As I rode my trusty steed back home that afternoon, I had a feeling of pride and joy that I don’t think I’ve felt since.

Russ Mulroy,

Fort Mill, South Carolina

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