Keith Wyland

Theft, Teaching, and Learning

Published: 27 Mar 2015

My bicycle was stolen from our garage.

Today, I think. Maybe yesterday, or the night before, I’m not sure.

My red and white 2008 Trek 3700 would hang by the tires, upside down, from hooks in the ceiling. Depending on what I was retrieving from the garage, there was a 50/50 chance I would smack my six-foot four-inch high head on its handlebars. Early this evening, after loading the kids in the back seat of our car to take Carissa to a 6-week postpartum midwife appointment, something didn’t seem quite right. I looked up, and the grey, rubber-coated hooks were empty.

There are lots of options for dealing with this sort of thing that may seem acceptable given the circumstances:

  1. Report the theft to the police

  2. Spend a couple hours visiting some local used bike stores and pawn shops in search of my bike

  3. Be angry that someone had the nerve to walk into my garage and finagle the bike off the hooks (something even I’m not exactly graceful with, and I do it anytime I use it in the summer to keep space available in our one-car garage)

  4. Wish for judgment and punishment on the thief

  5. Give a crooked eye to all our neighbors with suspicions that it could be any one of them who came walking down our alley, then left pedaling

  6. Hope and wait for the day I see someone riding my bike on the street so I can stop them and harass them about how terrible of a person they are, then take back my bike

  7. Beat myself up for accidentally leaving the garage door open overnight, or lay blame on Carissa for possibly doing the same during the day.

These may all seem fairly reasonable, but of them I’m only interested in #1. Theft is a crime, and I imagine my neighbors would like for crime occurring in our neighborhood to be reported. But, beyond that, I just don’t see the value in any more time spent lamenting this hunk of metal, rubber and plastic.

I’m privileged to not rely on that bike for my livelihood. I did not depend on it surviving a daily commute to a job that, if I was late one more time to, might no longer be mine. It was not my transportation to and from a food pantry because my car broke down but my kids still needed to eat. I did not use it day after day to hop between parks searching for the next bench to lay down my head. It was purely for my recreation, and I’m privileged enough to purchase another one. For me, it’s a replaceable thing. Maybe for the thief it means much more.

In the car on the way to the midwife appointment, we passed the long driveway that leads to a once country club/golf course turned community center/vegetable gardens/bike trails. I fantasized out loud about a new full suspension mountain trail bike.

On the drive from the birth center to a gas station, our conversation quickly progressed into wondering what kind of first bike we might get for Kaiya and how silly it would be to gift it on her December birthday.

At the dinner table, Carissa prayed that whoever now has the bike would be blessed by having it.

Before bedtime, Kaiya and I read from her International Children’s Story Bible in which the Lord’s Prayer reads, “forgive us for doing wrong things, and help us forgive others.”

I was reminded of Jesus’ sermon on the plain where his radical teachings are quoted:

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies!”

“when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back.”

“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. …and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful.”


“The way of the cross seems foolish.”

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