SAN DIEGO - A group of wounded veterans are asking for help to recover 16 custom-made bikes that were recently stolen.
The adaptive bikes owned by the non-profit Ride 2 Recovery were stolen last Tuesday from a storage unit at the Naval Medical Center San Diego. The bikes were worth over $10,000, but to the wounded warriors and their organization they are priceless.
“It may seem like a bicycle to most, but it’s not to us. It’s our way of life," said retired Marine Corps Sgt. Jamie Rihn.
Rihn, the Ride 2 Recovery program director, said the adaptive bikes are much more than just recreational. They’re therapeutic for many veterans struggling with injuries.
“They can just be down in the dumps when they get on the bike. But when they’re done riding, even if it’s just 10 minutes, you can see the smiles on their faces, there’s just life back in their hearts," Rihn said.
Rhin said it's heartbreaking that someone stole them.
“I was really, really angry that someone stole from our warriors -- our healing warriors that have given 110 percent already," Rihn said. “Shame on you! Shame! I mean these aren’t just bicycles for us. These are our way of life.”
Justin Campbell runs the Vets2Trails therapeutic mountain biking program that supports the PTSD program at Naval Medical Center San Diego. He said the Semper Fi Fund and Vets2Trails organizations were also affected by the thefts since they helped donate four full suspension Trek Mountain bikes.
"Each bike was worth over $2,000 and worse, they form the backbone of one of our most welcomed therapeutic recreational activities," Campbell stated.
An effort to raise money for more bikes is posted online.
Naval police have taken over the investigation.
Anyone with information should contact Jamie Rihn at 910-382-2003 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Retired MLB pitcher Curt Schilling expressed his frustration over the stolen bicycles on Twitter and offered a reward.
http://t.co/Mscse6hRqR I'm offering a reward for ANYONE that finds and returns these. It will be worth the effort
— Curt Schilling (@gehrig38) April 2, 2015