When police officers arrived at Josh Taylor’s home Wednesday afternoon to ask if he could identify his stolen bicycle, he said he could. When he stepped outside, though, the bike he was shown wasn’t his.
It was one officers bought to replace it.
As he regularly does, 12-year-old Josh was riding his bike to Mae Hensley Junior High on Moffett Road on Wednesday morning. He stopped to buy a bottle of water at Dennis’s Sav-On Liquors, about half a mile from school.
While being rung up, he heard his bike being stolen, said Ceres police Sgt. Travis Hudson. Josh ran out and saw a woman he estimated to be in her late teens to early 20s riding away on his Thrasher BMX bike. He yelled at her – “I’m like, ‘Hey, get back here. That’s my bike.’ ” – then called 911. He described his bike and the person who stole it: She wore a red sweat shirt, blue or black pants, red and black shoes, and had reddish-brown hair, pulled back into a bun.
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I know now that he knows what to do in a situation like that, it makes me very proud.
Jodie Taylor, on 12-year-old son Josh calling police to report his bike stolen
Josh waited briefly at the scene, but then walked the rest of the way to Mae Hensley. “He knows the rule: Don’t be late to school,” Josh’s mom, Jodie Taylor, said Thursday evening.
Officers responding to the stolen bike report searched all over the area but did not locate the person who took it, Hudson said. Knowing the caller was a 12-year-old, they figured he attended nearby Mae Hensley, so they went there.
Officers talked with school staff members, who reported that Josh is a good kid, the sergeant said. “When we sat and talked with him, the first thing he said, he owned up he hadn’t locked his bike,” Hudson said. That impressed officers, as did the fact that Josh had the presence of mind to call police on his own and provide a good description.
“His brother-in-law (the husband of Josh’s sister, who is 18 years older than her little brother) just joined the CHP, and I think that has a lot to do with him knowing what to do,” Jodie Taylor said.
Officers also liked that Josh knew it was more important to get to school on time than wait for them at the scene, Hudson said.
Learning that the stolen bike was a Thrasher purchased at Wal-Mart, Ceres officers decided to take up a collection to buy the boy a new one. “I talked to the mom, because we didn’t want to circumvent her, and she was fine with it,” Hudson said.
About a dozen people, from administration to patrol, pitched in, he said. A bike exactly as Josh had described wasn’t available, so they bought him a Mongoose Rebel, for about $130, as well as a lock – “because all this could have been avoided by locking the bike,” Hudson said.
Arriving at school Friday morning, Josh used two locks to secure his Mongoose to the bike rack inside a fenced area. “It rides better than my other one,” he said.
When officers surprised Josh at home with his new bike, “He was pretty stoic. ... cool, a typical 12-year-old,” Hudson said.
“I was kind of stunned,” Josh said. “I was speechless, basically.”
Jodie Taylor said she feels “very good” about the Ceres police officers doing what they did.
Proud of her son stepping up to report the theft of his bike, she added, “Being a single mom, I sometimes ask myself, am I doing right in how I’ve raised my kids. Obviously, I’ve done something right.”
Deke Farrow: 209-578-2327