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Couple's Tandem Bike Is Stolen, And Returned, After Thief Feels Guilty

The thief who stole Harly and Courtney Forbes' bicycle seemed not to know how important it is to their lives. Because after dashing off with the tandem bike early Monday, the bike was returned Wednesday. Police say the thief was apparently moved to remorse by the pair's story of how they were now without a way of getting around on their own.

The couple, who have been described as developmentally delayed, do not have drivers' licenses. They live with Kim Turner, Courtney's mother, in Vancouver, Wash., just north of Portland. The bike was taken from their house's porch, with the thief wedging their front door shut for good measure.

They had just gotten the bicycle two months ago, when Harly, 22, traded in his bike to help him buy a used Peugeot tandem for around $900.

"She had anxiety riding around alone," Kim Turner said of Courtney, 21, in The Columbian earlier this week. "He traded in his really nice bike so that they could ride together and she would feel safer."

As their story spread on social media and in the news, the Forbeses received an outpouring of support. A donation account was set up at a bank. An online fundraising campaign surpassed its $900 goal in two days. And a couple who read their story gave them their own bike.

But after just three days, the Forbes' tandem was returned, along with a message attached. Here's the text of the note:

"I bring this back 2 you because I am truly sorry and hope you can forgive me. I am trying to do the right thing."

The paper is signed, "Guilty."

Turner tells The Columbian that when she briefly saw the man who left the bike in her yard early Wednesday her first reaction was simply to thank him.

"Everybody makes mistakes in their lives," Turner said. She added that she wasn't sure what the thief's motivation was for returning the bike, which she says is now damaged to ride.

"I hope he genuinely felt guilty and this had that big of an impact on him," she said.

The bike was returned one day after Jackie and Richard Riordan gave Harly and Courtney their custom-made tandem bicycle, which they bought several years ago.

The Riordans have reportedly told the Forbeses that the tandem is theirs for good. According to an article by KATU TV, "The bike was purchased for $4,000 but as Richard says, it's not worth much if it's not being used."

Vancouver police are calling the community's response to the Forbeses' plight "inspiring" — but that doesn't mean they have stopped working on the case, and the initial crime of theft.

"The widespread attention to these crime victims may have contributed to the momentary activation of the suspect's conscience," said Kim Kapp of the Vancouver Police Department, "however the goal of the Vancouver Police Department is to make an arrest in this case."

Copyright 2013 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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