CORNER BROOK — Caroline Newman is happy her kids have their stolen bikes back, but wonders if it's just by luck that they did.
Tyler Newman and Brooke Murley, who are both 12, parked their bikes outside their home on Station Road Thursday night like they do every day.
When they went to go for a ride early Friday morning, the bikes were nowhere to be seen.
At first, they thought maybe their dad was playing a practical joke on them, but they soon realized someone had swiped their bikes. They asked a neighbour if he had seen anything suspicious the night before, but he had not.
Newman went to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and filed a complaint later Friday, filling out a form about when and where the incident happened and descriptions of the missing bikes.
The family went away for the weekend and returned home Sunday night. On Monday morning, a neighbour who knew about the theft told Newman that he had seen the police collecting two bikes that matched the description from further up Station Road.
Newman called the RNC and was told to drop by the headquarters to see if they had the bikes. When she arrived at the police station, Newman was surprised to see what she saw.
"I pulled up and they were pulling the bikes from the dumpster there in the police parking lot," said Newman.
Newman said the officer she dealt with knew nothing about the complaint she had made Friday. She was told the bikes had been damaged, likely from the way they had been roughly treated by whoever stole them.
While Brooke's bike had one pedal pushed in and will require repairs before she can ride it again, Newman said Tyler's bike had handlebars that needed to be tightened up before it was stolen. The only thing different about his bike after the theft was it was missing one rubber handlebar grip and was scratched up a little.
It wasn't until after they got home with their bikes that Newman began to wonder if they ever would have gotten them back if her neighbour had not seen the police retrieving them earlier on Monday.
"I went through the process I was supposed to go through, but if it wasn't for my neighbour, those bikes would have ended up in the dump and I still would have been looking for them," she said. "I'm upset they didn't have the common courtesy of phoning me. It would be different if I had never told them these bikes were missing."
Sgt. Tim Buckle of the RNC said the number of stolen bicycles recovered by the RNC poses a storage problem for the police every summer. He said there are probably a "couple hundred" in the garage at the RNC headquarters right now.
He said the value and condition of the bike is a factor in whether or not the police will keep it.
"Our policy is, if we recover a bicycle that is in acceptable condition, we will hold it for 90 days," said Buckle.
If the bike is not matched up with an owner, or if it only need minor repairs, it will eventually get donated to a community service group or charitable organization.
Bikes that are deemed beyond repair are discarded and end up in the landfill. Buckle said he had not personally seen the bikes belonging to Newman's children and could not comment on their condition or why they were in the dumpster.
Newman plans to have the bikes fixed and thinks the police should have given her the courtesy of making that decision.
"They may not be the best bikes in the world, but they are ours and it should be up to us whether we want them back to see if we can fix them," said Newman. "Who else is missing bikes that the cops have thrown in the dumpster because they didn't think they were worthy of keeping? Where do they draw the line of whose bike is good enough?"
Buckle said anyone who feels the RNC has not followed its policy can file a complaint about the way their matters were handled.