Portland police officers nab thief who stole bike from 12-year-old

Portland Police Officer Roger Walsh and 12-year-old Owen Lefur. (Photo: Lefur family)

A 12-year-old was speechless after a pair of Portland police officers nabbed a guy they say stole the boy's bike.

Police say the theft occurred outside Foster's Market in Sellwood Wednesday, Feb. 21.

Owen Lefur, 12, and his younger sister, Mirabelle, 10, rode to the market after they earned money shoveling snow from stairwells and sidewalks in their neighborhood.

The Lefurs placed their bikes against large glass windows and walked inside to buy some sweet treats. There are no bike racks at the market.

While they were inside, they saw an older man looking at the bikes. Then they say he grabbed one of the bikes and rode away. Owen says he gave chase, but the man got away.

A store employee called police.

Portland Police Officer Roger Walsh -- who has patrolled Sellwood for more than a decade -- took the report at the boy's home.

Owen gave Walsh a "spot on description."

Walsh told the boy he had someone in mind.

In between calls Walsh met with Officer Randy Hauskins. The pair patrolled a section of the Springwater Corridor.

A bike track could be seen in fresh snow. They followed the track which led them to a small camp, where they found Curtis Cendana, 21.

The officers say Cendana told them before they asked about the bike that he "was going to return it."

Officers took Cendana into custody and seized the bike.

They stored the bike overnight and returned to the Lefur's home the following day.

"He answered the door," Walsh said, "and I said, 'Hey, I found your bike,' and he looked at me and said, 'That's not my bike."

In an attempt to disguise the silver bike, officers say Cendana spray-painted the bike black in color. But something was unmistakable.

"White tires on the bike," Walsh said. "That made it distinct."

In spots where Cendana's knee rubbed against the frame, officers say the silver frame was noticeable.

"At the [bike's] fork, it still had the stickers on it (that Owen) had put on it," Walsh said, "and he realized, 'that is my bike!'"

Owen was shocked.

"I was really excited, sort of speechless," he said. "We just thought that there was going to be no chance."

They took a few photos with the officers.

"We both have kids," Hauskins told KATU's Chris Liedle. "I think that is a big part of it."

But Hauskins wasn't going to give the bike back in its condition. He called Portland bike shop Goods BMX. It agreed to disassemble the bike, strip the spray paint and clean it up.

"They don't have to do that," Owen said. "They are just really good guys."

Walsh says the Lefurs' detailed description and his knowledge of the neighborhood helped recover the bike. He estimates he has only successfully returned a handful of bikes in his law enforcement career. Unfortunately, many bikes are taken apart, disguised, altered or sold and taken to other cities.

"If this doesn't make you happy," Walsh said, "and make you remember why you started a profession like this, you probably aren't in it for the right reason."

A few tips from the Portland Bike Theft Task Force:

  • Register: your bike. It's free and takes only a few minutes.
  • Lock: your bike when you leave it unattended.
  • Report: your bike when it is stolen. If police find it, you'll get it back.
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