Austin Griffin did not cry when his bicycle was stolen late Tuesday night. But he wanted to.
"I just said I wanted it back now!" Austin said.
The 11-year-old Rock Hill boy with autism had a special bike given to him that was made and paid for by a motorcycle club of firefighters. It has three rear wheels to make the bike steady, and a siren and horn. It also has a special compartment for his stuff.
Austin is one of three triplet children of Jennifer Tomchek. The family has lived on Cedar Street in Rock Hill for Austin's whole life, and him riding that bike is as regular as the sunrise.
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"His heart was broken," Tomchek said. "So was mine. My heart broke and then it sank."
Tomchek came home from working a double-shift Tuesday night just before midnight when she saw the bike had been taken from the porch where it had been kept. Fire & Iron Club gave Austin his ride more than a year ago.
Tomchek woke her son to give him the bad news and called the police. Officer Brendan Moore told Tomchek stolen bicycles are tough to find, but the cops would look.
"The officer said he would try his best, that all the police would," Tomchek said.
Tomchek and Austin went to bed sad. A few hours later, there was a knock on the door in the night.
It was the police.
The bicycle had been found several blocks away, outside a convenience store. One of the rear tires had been broken off, and the seat was snapped off.
But the bike could be repaired.
"I was in tears," Tomchek said. "The police had saved the day."
The Rock Hill Police Department officers who searched and found the bicycle is the same shift that saved a suicidal man three weeks ago.
"Our officers make every effort to recover and find stolen property, and fortunately, in this case we were able to recover this bicycle for this family," said Capt. Mark Bollinger.
Fire & Iron Club members heard about the broken bike and will fix it for free, Tomchek said.
It will take a few weeks to get parts to fix the bike, but Austin will be riding it again soon.
"I love my bike," Austin said.