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Bike thief shows up at Calgary family’s door to apologize to parents of deceased boy

Five weeks after their late son Bryce’s prized possession – a red BMX-style bike the 11-year-old spent months building by hand – was stolen from their backyard shed, Malcolm Eyjolfson and Kerri Workman had started to give up hope it would ever be found.

So the couple was surprised Tuesday when Malcolm got a call from police saying the stolen ride had been recovered.

It was one year, to the day, after Bryce first brought the completed bike home.

As Metro reported in May, the bike had become a treasured keepsake for the family after Bryce died in October. They had been holding on to it as a memento of happier times but planned to donate the bicycle so another child could enjoy it.

After the theft in May, the family shared their story publicly, pleading for the thief or thieves to come forward.

Meanwhile, the same officer who had the duty of informing Malcolm and Kerri of Bryce’s death also set out, going door to door in their community of Dover, looking for clues.

Kerri said they were “elated” to have the bike returned, but what happened next was even more surprising – and moving.

“That night, we were just eating some dinner, just grateful to have the bike home, and then we got a knock on the door."

Not knowing what to expect, the couple opened the door to find a young, tattooed man who introduced himself as Shane and admitted to stealing the bike from their shed in May.

He said he didn't realize until later that it had belonged to their deceased son.

As Metro reported last month, Bryce died in October in an accident believed to be related to “the choking game” – an activity among youth that gained particular attention in 2014 after being linked to a series of deaths. The goal of the “game” is to cut off one’s air intake to the point of a quick, euphoric rush, but it can have tragic consequences.

Before he died, Bryce’s bike was one of his most prized possessions, in large part because he built it himself through a community program at the Forest Lawn Library.

Before he died, Bryce’s bike was one of his most prized possessions, in large part because he built it himself through a community program at the Forest Lawn Library.

But Shane knew none of this when he took the bike.

“He said he didn’t realize the impact of his actions until he read the story in the Metro,” Kerri said. “He just felt compelled to come and speak to us face-to-face and own up to his actions.”

The man also had another bike in tow. He wanted to return it, personally, as it included some of the parts that he had stripped from Bryce’s bike.

Police had returned the bulk of the partially disassembled bicycle to Malcolm earlier in the day.

The couple said they were stunned to see this man now show up at their doorstep with the rest of bike parts, and a seemingly genuine sense of contrition.

“This gentleman had a sincere look on his face,” Malcolm said. “We got talking to him and he said he’s been a thief all his life. He’s 23 years old. For the last little while he’d been living with guilt and, after reading our story, he said couldn’t handle it any more, and he wanted to own up to his mistakes. He felt ashamed.”

The couple spoke with Shane for about 15 minutes and at one point, he wanted to apologize to Bryce, as well.

The photo of Shane and Bryce's recovered bike. (His face and arm tattoos have been digitally blurred to not identify him.)

Contributed

The photo of Shane and Bryce's recovered bike. (His face and arm tattoos have been digitally blurred to not identify him.)

“We have a little, special, Bryce memorial set up in our yard, and he went and paid respect to our son,” Kerri recalled. “He said, ‘I’m sorry little man. I’ll learn from this.’”

“He just genuinely seemed moved,” she added. “He said he was going to try to turn his life around and make better choices, moving forward.”

The unlikely trio chatted some more, and at one point Shane even let Malcolm and Kerri take a photo of him with Bryce’s bike, before he went on his way.

The couple came away from the encounter “extremely moved,” Kerri said.

“We never ever expected the person who actually took it to actually come and own up to their actions and apologize to our faces,” she said. “I think that was really brave. And, if this young man now turns around and changes his whole life for the better, well, maybe this all happened for a reason.”

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