A 13-year-old Saddle Brook boy was pretty shaken up after a middle-aged thief swiped his brand new bicycle from outside the dollar store in town while he was inside shopping with his grandmother.
Hearing what happened, managers at the Dollar General Store on Market Street got together and gave young Michael Duchnowski a new bike.
Michael had parked his $220 black-and-lime-green Schwinn Sidewinder mountain bike against the wall of the store, then went inside to join his grandmother, who was shopping there, Police Chief Robert Kugler said.
When they walked out 10 minutes later, the bicycle was gone.
Responding Police Officer Kim Diaz consoled the upset youngster and his grandmother, keeping them relaxed and calm.
Diaz and detectives assigned to the case also retrieved surveillance video that “showed a thinly-built black man in his late 40s walk in and out of the store, then take the bicycle and ride away,” Kugler said.
“He was about 5-foot-5 and wearing faded gray or black jeans, dark-colored boots, a black baseball cap with a lightly-colored logo and a green safety vest over a dark-colored shirt,” the chief said. “He had a wide and slow gait. He also appeared to be holding his pants up.”
As police tried to identify the thief, store managers Sabrina Wright and Antonella Pappagallo turned their attention to Michael – and on Wednesday presented him with a shiny new bicycle.
Wright commended Diaz on her ability to make a bad situation better.
"We too often hear negative complaints about the police these days,” the manager said. “It’s actions by those Officer Diaz that happen every day that should get the deserved credit."
"It's what we do," Diaz respectfully responded.
The chief, meanwhile, praised Diaz for her empathy.
“It's something that should be highlighted for other officers to be cognizant of and emulate,” Kugler said. “I'm proud of her and all of our officers -- and when we receive an acknowledgment like this, I know the community is, too."
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