MARTINSVILLE, Ind. — "You're stealing from children!" That's what parents in Martinsville are saying as an increase in bike thefts plagues their community.
Families are fed up with the disheartening trend and are working to take back their streets. Neighbors said the thefts are happening almost daily.
Sherri Jones's son got a new bike for Easter, but when he forgot to bring it inside, it was gone.
"They are kids. They are going to forget to put them up," Jones said. "They could chain them up, they could do whatever, if the thief wants it they are going to take it.”
Neighbors said crooks are changing the bikes to look less recognizable. In the past, neighbors have tried using a bait bike to catch the thieves, but police told them it wasn't legal. A neighborhood watch is working to build a registry for the bikes, however, some neighbors said the thieves are changing the serial numbers, too.
"They’ll even paint the tire wheels, they will mess the bike completely up," said Frank Crouch. He's had 25 bikes stolen. After retiring, he turned to fixing up and selling vintage bikes.
The Crouch family is in the process of reaching out to Martinsville police to set up a legal bait-bike sting operation. Jones said the last sting operation worked, and the community saw a reduction in thefts.