Wounded vets’ custom cycles stolen in Anchorage

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Police say a custom-made mountain bike belonging to a double-amputee war veteran has been recovered after being reported missing in Anchorage.

The Anchorage Daily News reports (http://bit.ly/138Wj03 ) four other bikes reported stolen by the nonprofit Ride 2 Recovery remain missing.

Police spokeswoman Dani Myren says authorities received a call Wednesday morning from a person who found a bike propped against a “No Parking” sign in an Anchorage park. The bike belongs to Army Staff Sgt. Matt DeWitt.

Police say DeWitt’s $19,000 mountain bike was believed taken from a locked U-Haul at a downtown parking lot early Tuesday. The bike has controls that allow DeWitt to shift with his knees and brake with his back.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Someone broke into a U-Haul trailer in a downtown parking lot and stole five bikes belonging to wounded veterans in Alaska to train for a race, the group that organized the trip said.

The bikes are valued in the tens of the thousands of dollars and include one custom-made for Staff Sgt. Matt DeWitt, who lost both arms below the elbow to a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq in 2003, the Anchorage Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/14WpBwz). The bike, which police said is valued at $19,000, has controls that allow the double-amputee to shift with his knees and brake with his back.

“No one else can really ride it,” said DeWitt, of Weare, N.H., who had used the bike only a few times before it disappeared.

The 26-person group arrived Sunday and Monday to begin the trip, sponsored by the Tatitlek Corp.

Tiffini Skuce of Ride 2 Recovery, the nonprofit that organized the trip, said participants are mostly veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, with some suffering from traumatic physical injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries.

DeWitt said the group spent Monday riding trails at Kincaid Park. That night, the bikes were locked in a U-Haul in a downtown hotel parking lot, Skuce said. They were last seen around midnight, and when riders began unloading the bikes the next morning, they noticed the lock and some of the bikes gone.

“It’s heartbreaking because it’s injured veterans who are trying to carry on and better themselves and then their bikes are gone,” she said.

Skuce said the group filed a police report Tuesday. Rentals temporarily replaced other bikes so riders could still train, but they’re not as nice as the ultra-light, high-end bikes belonging to the riders, she said. Also, DeWitt, who is training for a long-distance, high-altitude race in Colorado, can’t ride a rental.

The group planned to head to Seward Wednesday, Skuce said.

According to the police report, the missing bikes include: a Diamondback Sortie alloy bike with the word “Thompson” on the handlebars and Shimano electric shifting; a custom “Stealth” Ride 2 Recovery bike; a Raleigh Talus black bike with blue accents; a Felt black carbon fiber bike and a Cannondale 29 white bike with black lettering. Castro said all the bikes also have “Ride 2 Recovery” stickers.

“Not a way to welcome them to Alaska,” she said.

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Information from: Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News, http://www.adn.com

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