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Pinellas Park mom grateful for return of daughter's stolen therapy tricycle

Christine Garner, 14, and her mother, Tricia Garner, are reunited with Christine’s stolen tricycle at their home in Pinellas Park on Sunday. Christine, who has cerebral palsy, needs the therapeutic trike to get around. It was returned with a little damage, but they are glad to have it back.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Christine Garner, 14, and her mother, Tricia Garner, are reunited with Christine’s stolen tricycle at their home in Pinellas Park on Sunday. Christine, who has cerebral palsy, needs the therapeutic trike to get around. It was returned with a little damage, but they are glad to have it back.

PINELLAS PARK — A girl and her tricycle have been reunited.

But what exactly led to the special trike's theft remains unclear.

Pinellas Park police returned the bright green therapeutic tricycle to 14-year-old Christine Garner, who has cerebral palsy, Saturday night, a week after someone stole it from her family's porch.

Police arrested Donald Wayne Terrell, 57, of Clearwater and charged him with dealing in stolen property. .

Pinellas Park police didn't have an officer available for comment Sunday, but Tricia Garner, Christine's mother, said police gave her the following account of how they found the trike:

Terrell sells bicycles at the Wagon Wheel Flea Market in Pinellas Park.

He called police last week because dozens of people had told him the big, bright green tricycle he was displaying in front of his booth looked just like the one stolen from Garner, who uses the therapeutic trike in the hopes that she will some day walk unaided.

The St. Petersburg Times and local TV stations reported the story of the trike theft last week.

When police asked Terrell how he got the tricycle, he didn't give them a straight answer, they told Tricia Garner.

He eventually told them he bought it from a homeless person on the sidewalk in front of the flea market for $40. The tricycle costs about $2,200.

"The whole thing is weird," Garner said.

Terrell denied stealing the tricycle to Pinellas Park police. And Wagon Wheel manager David Huntley doesn't think Terrell committed the theft.

"If he knew the bike was stolen, I'm sure he wouldn't have put it out on public display," Huntley said Sunday. "He'd have to be pretty stupid."

Terrell has sold bikes at the market for about a year, according to Huntley.

Tricia Garner said the trike has suffered some damage since it was taken from her porch. A piece under the seat is broken and she needs to have it checked out before Christine rides it.

But Garner is happy police found the bike and said the outpouring of support was heartwarming.

"So many people came together, so many people offered to pay for it," Garner said. "So many blessings came out of this whole situation."

Will Hobson can be reached at (727) 445-4167 or whobson@sptimes.com.

Pinellas Park mom grateful for return of daughter's stolen therapy tricycle 10/02/11 [Last modified: Sunday, October 2, 2011 11:16pm]
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