The Shelby Township Police Department makes a donation of 50 bikes to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Re-Cycle for Kids program. Some of the bikes had been unclaimed since 2017.

The Shelby Township Police Department makes a donation of 50 bikes to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Re-Cycle for Kids program. Some of the bikes had been unclaimed since 2017.

Photo provided by Wendy Davis

Police Department donates abandoned bikes to Re-Cycle for Kids program

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published April 28, 2021


SHELBY TOWNSHIP/UTICA — The Shelby Township Police Department made a large donation of bikes to a local program in hopes that the bikes will find new owners who need them.

On April 13, Shelby Township Police Department Property Clerk Wendy Davis, with the help of Utica-Van Dyke Service, was able to say goodbye to a giant stack of unused, unclaimed, unloved bicycles that had been cluttering her files and the grounds of the tow yard for months — and some for years — and give them to a program that helps children and inmates. 

Traditionally, the unclaimed and unidentified bikes would be included with the annual police auction and be bought in bulk by scrappers. However, this year the police decided that there are far too many people in need of these bikes to leave them to the scrapyard. Instead, the department was able to partner with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Re-Cycle for Kids program to give some of these bikes a new life.

The Re-Cycle for Kids program helps teach jail trustees valuable skills in rehabilitating and reconditioning bicycles and then donates the refurbished bikes to kids in need all over Michigan. 

The program collects and refurbishes bicycles to be distributed at no cost through nonprofit organizations. The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office began the Re-CYCLE for Kids program in 2006 to provide refurbished bicycles to local children. The Sheriff’s Office reports that since the program’s inception, thousands of bikes have been collected, recycled and given to people in need.

Leslie Heisler, the Shelby Township Police Department’s community services officer, said the department did have some complications in trying to find a place that was able to accept the donation of bikes; however, they were able to find a way to get the bikes to the sheriff’s program.

“Because of COVID, it was a challenge to find a program that would accept all of the bikes. Many of the donation centers and programs lost their storage facilities and volunteer personnel during the pandemic and just weren’t able to take the incoming donations. We were put in touch with (the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office) by a lady at Holy Spokes in Lake Orion who had lost her storage facility as well, but knew that the program at (the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office) would want the equipment. Knowing that there were so many people in need of bikes, and that the bikes would not only be rehabbed and provided to people in need, but that the people involved in the recycling of the equipment were working to better themselves during incarceration made this collaboration a win-win in our minds,” she said.

Many of these bikes were either abandoned or stolen and recovered by the department.  

“Whenever we locate a bike without an owner, we search all of our records to see if it matches a bike in a prior lost or stolen report. Unfortunately, most people aren’t able to supply serial numbers or even model numbers for their stolen bikes, so we just aren’t able to make a 100% positive match, which is what we must have before we can release the property. Because of that, many of these bikes remain unclaimed,” she said.

Heisler said some of the abandoned bikes dated back quite a few years.    

“There were roughly 50 bikes. Some of them had been unclaimed in our tow yard since as far back as 2017,” she said.

Heisler said that residents should consider tagging their bicycles as a way to make it easier to get them back.

“Tagging your bicycle with an identifying mark or inscription that makes it readily identifiable, as well as making sure you note the model and serial number of your bike in your records, helps us to identify, recover and return bikes that we locate. Also, stressing to your children and loved ones that bicycles should be locked up or secured in a garage or storage when not being ridden can help prevent the unfortunate theft of those bicycles, especially when the crime is often simply one of opportunity,” she said.