Kaden Durham, 13, of Homer rode his new bike through his driveway and around his backyard Wednesday afternoon. It was a gift from the Cortland Police Benevolent Association.
Durham’s bike was stolen twice between June and November while living on Frederick Avenue in the City of Cortland, said Officer Jeffrey Fitts. The first time, it was stolen off the front porch.
The family bought security cameras and locked the bike to the front porch after they saw a man riding it through Cortland, said Rushana Durham, Kaden’s mom. Rushana Durham approached the man — who said he bought it for $75 from someone — told him it was stolen and took it from him.
The second time it was stolen, Rushana Durham checked the security footage and saw a hooded man on their porch, Rushana Durham said. He spent over an hour working the security chain off the bike around 1 a.m.
“Kaden came outside the next day to go ride his bike and he’s like ‘mom, my bike is gone,’” Rushana Durham said. “I thought he was kidding.”
“It was the first bike that I could ride anywhere and when I got it, I was so happy,” Kaden Durham said. “When it got stolen, it was heartbreaking — it was sad that someone would do that.”
When the bike was first stolen, Rushana Durham called Cortland police to report it. Fitts, who is president of the Benevolent Association, followed up regularly with the family and offered to buy Kaden a new bike after it was stolen for a second time, Rushana Durham said.
“At first, I didn’t take him seriously, bikes get stolen all the time, cops don’t put that much effort into it,” Rushana Durham said. “When he called us down and presented the check to Kaden, as a mom, I was so emotional because Kaden is a kid, he’s very passionate about his items and gifts and everything that’s given to him.”
Bikes were out of stock before Christmas when Fitts looked for one between November and March. While waiting, he gave Kaden Durham a check for $500 toward the purchase of a new bike — half was donated by the union and half was donated by Fitts, he said.
“We could have gone to Walmart or whatever, but the police department was willing to do $250 toward it, and I covered the rest,” Fitts said.
In December, the family moved to Homer, in part because of the stealing but also because Rushana Durham didn’t want her children growing up in the environment of Frederick Avenue, she said. In the time the family lived there, Rushana Durham observed drug addicts, drug deals and a lot of stealing.
“This situation stood out not only because Rushana had lost the bike once, but twice and she took every precaution she could and still someone was malicious enough to go to those extremes to steal property with bolt cutters,” Fitts said. “It wasn’t just sitting on the front lawn at night.”
Fitts wanted to do right by the family and other members of the Cortland Police Benevolent Association agreed. Fitts bought the bike through Action Sports in Cortland. The police department presented the new bike to Kaden Durham on March 27.
“I felt so happy that I got a brand new bike,” Kaden Durham said. “I missed my old bike, I wasn’t expecting it and it was a good surprise.”