Bicycle graveyard spurs partnership between police, church group

BRUNSWICK, OH (WOIO) - Brunswick Police handle dozens of lost and stolen bikes each year that never get back to their owners.

A corral at the police department is where the bikes have sat until their owners come get them or their either sold at auction or trashed.

"I'd say a good 90 percent of the time we don't have any information. We don't know who the owner is and so it sits here in our lost bike corral," Brunswick Police Chief Brian Ohlin said. "Stuff kind of accumulated for maybe a year or two and it wasn't doing anybody any good."

That will no longer be the case. After going 90 days unclaimed the bicycles will now be eligible to be donated. City council had to approve the measure. The police department chose to partner with Grace Baptist Church's bike repair ministry called 're-Cycle'.

"We really have a lot of respect for our law enforcement officers and the things that they have to go through," said Associate Pastor Justin Brenenstuhl, with Grace Baptist Church in Brunswick. "To work together (and) to reach out to the community we're just really pleased with that.

Brenenstuhl is also one of the leaders of 're-Cycle'. The police department learned about the group's mission, of gifting bikes to those who can't afford them, through one of its officers.

"We want to show people we love them, we care about them (and) God loves them," Brenenstuhl said.

The bike repair ministry started in 2012 and has given away more than 500 bicycles to people living in a variety of places including, Honduras, Mexico and the Caribbean.

"To us that can afford things it's like getting a new car," Brenenstuhl said. "It just changes their world... kids their faces lighting up and for adults it changes their aspect in life. They can get transportation to and from work."

The bikes the police department donates will stay local.

"We've got a waiting list," Brenenstuhl said.

The first batch of bikes from the police department will go to Hope in the City. The organization gives bikes to refuges who now live in northeast Ohio.

Volunteers keep 're-Cycle' afloat. They gather once a week to work their magic. Each bicycle that is refurbished comes with a tag on it with the name of the person who did the work. A prayer is said before the bikes are delivered.

're-Cycle' is always accepting donations.

The Brunswick Police Department recently started a bicycle registration program to prevent theft and help officers track down owners if their bike goes missing. The process involves submitting a photograph of the bicycle and providing a serial number.

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