Tim Sullivan steals back his bike.

Kristen and Elliott parked their rental bikes at the rack and took a stroll down to the beach. Upon return, they discovered Elliott’s helmet on the ground. But the bikes were gone, STOLEN!

It seemed out of place. We were on the Florida panhandle in Seacrest Beach sharing a house with a couple families for Spring Break. We’ve been several times before and it never occurred to us to lock our bikes. But now we had an actual crime to solve. Inconceivable! The kids were ecstatic.

Me? Not so much. Seacrest Beach Security swiftly referred me back to the bike rental place on the village square. If I couldn’t return those bikes at week’s end they would cost me $350 each. I imagined a sophisticated crime syndicate, snatching bikes from the little unsuspecting beach towns and selling them in big, bad Panama City.

The bike guy said it was more likely teenagers taking them for a joyride and dumping them in the woods. Thankfully the bike hut doubles as the draft beer hut so my buddy Joel bought us a round. We schemed to canvas the neighborhood and bandied conspiracy theories about including whether it was all a scam and the rental place itself may have orchestrated the theft. Hmmm….

Kristen’s bike was an orange and blue Sun Cruz and Elliott’s was a black number called Lil’ Sport. Both had green baskets (key detail). Each one had a blue bracelet affixed to it, the kind they use in clubs that snag your arm hair, that said “Sullivan, T”. We figured even the dumbest of criminals would tear those off but the bike guy said if we find any without the bracelets that match our bikes to presume them to be stolen. Again, suspect number one was bike rental hut. We checked parks and wooded areas, verified name tags on bikes and stared down would-be hooligans.

The kids got in on the sleuthing action too, blanketing the streets, telling anyone who would listen there were thieves about! But actually finding the bikes seemed a lost cause. After sundown, my other buddy Schulzie suggested we take one more ride around the ‘hood. By this point, the most suspicious looking people were the pair of forty-somethings leering at every bike rack they passed….

But there was something–near the intersection of East Blue Crab Loop and Beach Bike Way was a front porch full of high school revelers with nary a parent in sight. A gaggle of bikes at the far end of the driveway begged for closer inspection. I figured we might have easier access early in the morning, when dads tend to be up puttering around and teenagers are entering their second cycle of REM sleep.

Schulzie texted me about 6am. “Ready to go on a mission?” Honestly, I was still asleep but half of parenthood is performed in a sleeplike state so why not the stealing back of stolen goods? Sure enough our bikes were there, “Sullivan, T” and all. My adrenaline pumped as I sped away down Barefoot Lane on the reclaimed Sun Cruz. Eminem blared in my mind “you better lose yourself in the music, the moment…” I never looked back for the mob of idiot teenagers (who may or may not have awoken before noon).

Feeling $700 wealthier, I splurged on coffee for everyone at the fancy coffee shop in Rosemary Beach, chocolate milk for Schulzie. How he can have three kids and no coffee habit is beyond me but hey, he was the one who woke me up. The kids broadcast exactly where the bike thieves were staying to other vacationers. Pint-sized justice was served. The Security Patrol resumed apprehending the un-wristbanded from entering the pool area. The now exonerated bike rental guy bought Kristen and I a beer for solving the crime and I could see it in the eyes of the children—this was the coolest thing, ever.

2 replies on “TimmyDaddy: My spring break caper”

  1. Wow! Great story, Tim….and with an even better ending!
    Was wondering in the beginning how you could have been so cheery about losing two bikes and all that money.
    I can sure relate to that story, but we never found our bikes.
    Back when our kids were still kids, and we all had bikes, we would take all five bikes to Chicago to visit my family.
    There is a great bike path along Lake Michigan, and we would be thrilled to have such a beautiful path to ride, with none of the NY hills. (Chicago, you may know, is windy, and also very FLAT. Helmets weren’t ever thought of then)
    Well, this one time we decided to spend some time in Lincoln Park after the ride. Our bikes were locked, but when we returned, my bike and son Peter’s bikes had been stolen – the locks obviously cut open, lying on the ground.
    For a long time, if I ever saw a brown or yellow bike, even in NY, I had to make sure it wasn’t ours.
    That was probably 40 years ago, but still sometimes on my mind.
    Tim, I always enjoy your stories. Hope you will keep them coming! Lots of love to you and your family.

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