‘I’m not interested in pressing charges,’ paralyzed Denver athlete asks for his bike back from thieves

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DENVER (KDVR) — A paralyzed Denver athlete is calling on the community for help after thieves targeted his storage locker, taking off with tens of thousands of dollars in equipment, including a custom adaptive mountain bike.

For Justin Pines, athletics have always been a huge part of his life.

“I was a runner, I was a skier,” Pines said, adding “and it has been arguably even more so post-injury because it’s been such a focus to reclaim that.”

In 2016, a ski accident paralyzed him from his chest down.

“I was hanging in this 8-foot tree well with my skis up top, upside down for almost an hour,” Pines said.

Pines lost his ability to run after that accident, but he didn’t lose his love for sports and made a commitment to himself to adapt athletically.

“I have this cage so I can get my adaptive gear out, get in it and go for a ride, go for a push in my racing wheelchair and leave this every day wheel in the cage locked, I can do that all independently,” he said. 

However, complete strangers recently hindered that independence with two separate thefts.

“Four months ago, some camping gear was stolen out of the cage, the lock was cut,” he said.

Then on Jan. 2, someone broke into his apartment complex’s garage and cut his lock again. This time the thief stole a custom $11,200 adaptive mountain bike. 

“This thing has become such a central part of how I get outside, especially during COVID,” Pines said. “Then all of the sudden it’s come into my life and a year later it’s ripped out, it is pretty devastating.”

Pines discovered mountain biking last year and it’s become a huge part of his life. He and several friends did a “bike-packing” trip last summer they are creating a documentary about. 

Not only is the bike extremely expensive, since it is a one-of-a-kind, Pines said it will take four to six months to re-create a new adaptive mountain bike for him. 

“It has so much specific purpose-built value for me,” Pines said. “If you bring it back or would turn it in, it would mean so, so much to me. I’m not interested in pressing charges and heck, I’ll even teach you how to ride the bike.”

Pines has created a GoFundMe account to help replace the adaptive bike. If donations exceed the cost of his bike, he’s pledging to donate the rest to the High Fives Foundation who will purchase more adaptive bikes for athletes like Pines. 

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