Thieves steal 31 bicycles from Tacoma school kids

Students at local high schools are going to have to make do with 31 fewer bicycles after they were stolen sometime Saturday night or Sunday morning.

The bikes belonged to the Major Taylor Project, an arm of the nonprofit Cascade Bicycle Club. The project brings cycling awareness and opportunities to kids from diverse communities.

The bikes, 18 of which were new, were intended for students at Chief Leschi School as well as Lincoln, Mount Tahoma and Foss High Schools. Some were earmarked for students at First Creek Middle School, said Leon Nettels, the South Sound field coordinator for the project.

The bikes were being kept in a storage container at the School of Industrial Design Engineering and Art at 6701 South Park Ave. in Tacoma.

Nettels was notified of the theft Sunday afternoon. When he opened the container he found most of the 50 bikes in it had been stolen.

He put the loss at $20,000.

“If we don’t recover them and insurance doesn’t cover it, it’s a pretty big blow,” Nettels said.

The project is basically an after school club where students learn various aspects of cycling from cyclocross to bike polo. They can also participate in the build-a-bike program where they build their owns bikes at no cost and then keep them.

The project also provides bike helmets, water bottles and snacks.

Nettels said he will have to pull bikes from various high schools to replace the ones intended for Chief Leschi. The students he spoke with Monday were understanding but upset at the theft.

“I’m really hoping that the police find who did this and that they go to jail,” he said.

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541, @crsailor