(May 31, 2003) -- She was nine years old when she became a crime victim. She was riding her bicycle near Atlantic Ave. and Burnett St. in Nov. 2002 when two fourteen year old boys demanded her bike. They were roughly twice her size...but she told them no. They punched her in the face. Hard. So hard they gave her two black eyes. So hard they knocked her off her bike, sending her face first to the ground which injured her further. Then they stole her bicycle and rode off.
LBPD Detective Steve Ritchie has seen plenty of crimes and victims, but there was something about that little girl, with her black eyes and injured face and overwhelming sadness on losing her bicycle.
Det. Ritchie, and Det. Rocio Gonzalez, and the other Detectives in LBPD's Youth Services Investigations decided to do something about it. What they did went beyond what their job requires. They produced the unforgetable moments we recorded below on May 30, 2003.
Detective Ritchie leads 10 year old Panthra outside her central city apartment.
Detective Gonzalez is on the far side of the parking lot, not immediately visible to Panthra...with a gleaming new bicycle, purchased for the little girl from money contributed by LBPD Detectives in the Youth Services division.
Panthra sees the new bicycle.
She maintains the expression you see here for almost a full minute.
Detectives Ritchie and Gonzalez explain to her: it's yours. It's your new bicycle.
One of Panthra's sisters looks on.
Detectives Ritchie and Gonzales prepare the new bike for Panthra's first ride. It finally dawns on Panthra: I have a bicycle again.
Detectives made sure Panthra has all the necessary trimmings. Safety first: here's a non-nonsense helmet.
Ready for launch.
Mama Rantha looks on, with her two other children.
The Detectives also took care of licensing the bicycle. Det. Ritchie gives mama Rantha the paperwork, including bike ID info. [Any thief who'd steal Panthra's new bike would be making a very big mistake.]
And Panthra peruses some new owner info.
Panthra is ready to ride...and it's hard to tell who's prouder, Det. Gonzalez or mama Rantha.
So...does she look happy to you?
We are also pleased to report that LBPD Detectives successfully apprehended two suspects in the case. The two juveniles are now proceeding through the juvenile justice system...while Panthra rides her new bike...both courtesy of LBPD's Detectives.