SAN DIEGO -- A Rancho Peñasquitos man who bought an electric bike after a Parkinson's disease diagnosis says someone stole the bike the same day he received it.
Bill Pitcher has spent decades as an avid biker. But when doctors diagnosed him with Parkinson's in October 2018, he thought his days of biking were over.
"His specialist told him not to ride, and so it really took the life out of him," said Byron Chesebrow, a good friend of Pitcher's.
After more than a year of not being able to enjoy one of his favorite hobbies, Pitcher's excitement returned when he saw Chesebrow buy a new e-bike and decided to get one too.
He placed his order and waited expectantly for it to arrive. "Probably half a dozen times every day [he would say] 'I'm so excited I'm so excited,'" Pitcher's wife, Moana, said.
He immediately assembled the e-bike when it arrived and rode it a few houses down to show it off. However, in the few minutes the bike was left unattended in front of the garage, the unthinkable happened.
"We went inside for five minutes to interact with his grandchildren, and Melissa saw somebody streak by on what she thought was his bike," Chesebrow said. "So I bolted out of the house, ran straight across that way and I didn't see anything."
As neighbors learned about what happened, they checked their security cameras and found pictures which family say show the thief riding off on Pitcher's new bike.
"It's shocking to all of us," Moana said. "You just feel violated, as anybody would."
At a loss, Pitcher's daughter Leslie posted about the incident on social media and was floored by the response. "People that we don't even know (were) saying, 'Start a GoFundMe, we'd pitch in, this should never happen to anyone,'" she said.
Even though the family says they're concerned they'll never see the bike again, they say the outpouring of love and support from the community and on social media have been a huge comfort. "It's incredible, the support," Moana said.
Family members have started a fundraiser on Facebook to replace the e-bike.