Local autistic boy gets his stolen bike back

11:56 PM, Feb 5, 2014   |    comments
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Winter Haven, Florida-- The shiny, red bike that sits in Tristan Couture-Roller's Winter Haven driveway, is like a badge of honor. 

"This was everything to him. We've tried for years to get him to ride a bike," beams Tristan's mom, Stephanie Couture-Roller.

Tristan is 12-year-old boy with autism, and learning to ride a bike wasn't easy.

"We tried for years to get him to ride a bike. Finally you give up and say 'there are some things your kid may not get to do one day'."

But after using training wheels, and with the help of his parents, and sister, Tristan soon got the hang of riding.

"He rides for hours. Hours!," his mom tells 10 News.

So when Tristan accidentally left his bike outside one afternoon last month, and discovered it gone...  

"It was gut-wrenching. He takes things harder than most of us. He called himself stupid," says his mom.

As more time passed, Tristan, his mom, and even the Winter Haven police knew the odds of finding the bike were slim.

"Ten or 11 days, and I thought it was over with" says Pete Kreticos of the Winter Haven Police Department.

But in a turn of events, an un-related police call came in. When police went to check it out, officers noticed a man, riding a bike that looked an awful lot like Tristan's.

"I just couldn't believe it was the bike! It's very rare to see something like this.  A happy ending.  Usually we do see endings, but they're not positive."

Despite receiving about a hundred calls a day, police were able to use a photo of the bike in a flier that was passed out to officers in the department. That was what ultimately helped get the bike recognized and back to Tristan.

While Tristan isn't a boy of many words, perhaps this is a time when words aren't needed. The smile on his face says it all.


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