It was a day Emily Kehlmeier won’t forget.
Terry Paul, Ottawa County Sheriff’s Deputy
Like she had many days before, Emily had ridden her purple and white Schwinn bicycle to work at Millers New Market in Genoa, where she is a bagger and helps customers carrying their purchases to their vehicles.
Emily, 30, has Downs syndrome and relied on the bike to get to and from work and around the village.
On this day last August, Emily came out of the store and discovered that her bike was gone.
“I was very upset,” she said. “I had that bike for a very long time – I got it 18 years ago.”
Emily reported the missing bike to the police. Genoa Police Sgt. Todd Mocniak investigated the theft, but there were few leads to follow.
On Sept. 24, the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office received a report from a local farmer that he found a bike leaning against a telephone pole near the intersection of Deno and Ernsthausen roads, about four miles from where the bike had been stolen.
Deputy Chad Millner, who was the former police chief in the Village of Genoa, was dispatched to investigate, and on his arrival, immediately recognized the bike as belonging to Emily. Deputy Millner had Emily brought to the scene and she confirmed the bicycle was hers.
“The basket was gone and it needed to be fixed, but I was happy they found it,” Emily said.
Deputy Millner’s investigation determined that a migrant worker had been seen riding the bike to and from work. That employee had allegedly gotten it from a third party who was likely no longer in the area. The bicycle was turned over to the Genoa Police Department for further investigation.
Deputy Millner recognized that the bike, a bit worse for the wear, would need to be repaired before Emily would be able to ride it again. He approached Terry Paul, the owner of Genoa Ford, to see if perhaps the dealership could help in restoring the bicycle to its original condition. Paul agreed.
In January, the repaired and restored bike was returned to Emily. “It looked beautiful,” she said. “I was very, very, very happy.
She is looking forward to being able to ride it to work when the weather gets nice. “And now I have a lock so that won’t happen again,” she said.
Ottawa County Sheriff Bratton and Deputy Millner recently recognized Terry Paul and Genoa Ford for their assistance and donation in helping restore the bike for Emily.
“This is an example of your business community and law enforcement working with the victims of crime, a partnership with results,” the sheriff said.
Terry Paul, Ottawa County Sheriff’s Deputy Chad Millner, Emily Kehlmeier and Genoa Police Sgt. Todd Mocniak, with Emily’s purple and white Schwinn bicycle, which was recovered, restored and returned to her after it was stolen.