Cyclist stranded in Winnipeg after bike stolen on cross-country fundraising ride
A student cycling across Canada to raise funds for orphans and abused children had his charity ride interrupted in Winnipeg after a thief stole his bicycle.
Anas Cheema, 22, is an international student from Pakistan studying in B.C. on his planned trek from the west to the east coast.
He left Victoria in mid-June and arrived in Winnipeg on July 10.
Cheema pulled over Wednesday night at a McDonalds restaurant in the 800 block of Leila Avenue.
In a momentary lapse, he put his bike and pack outside and dashed to the washroom at the back.
When he returned a couple minutes later, his $1,000 bike, camping equipment and wallet were all gone.
"I started running around…I thought I might be able to find the person because it was such a short period of time so I ran all around here like crazy. I couldn't find anything,” he said.
Frantic and alone, he went back into the restaurant to call police and the only person he knew in Winnipeg, someone he’d met earlier in his travels, Alison Doerksen.
“He’s stuck here. He is stranded,” said Doerksen.
She’s letting Cheema stay at her place during his ordeal. She’s confident the community will rally behind him.
“I feel bad, you know, that he had such a bad introduction to Winnipeg,” she said.
The charity Cheema is supporting hopes the theft won’t break his spirit.
"I think the real tragedy here is that this has really shattered his faith,” said Boyd McBride from SOS Children's Villages.
Cheema said he wants to know why someone would steal his bike.
“I would ask him, ‘Why do you do this, right?’” said Cheema.
Despite his frustration, Cheema is determined to finish his trek and said he won’t give up.
“That’s not me – never,” he said.
Those wanting to help him, can go to his donation page and give funds to either his charity, or for a new bike, by specifying which one they're supporting.
Cheema said he has already had some offers for a new bike.
Police said they don’t have any suspects in the theft. They are reaching out to the public, hoping the thief simply returns the bike after seeing and hearing about Cheema’s story. They admit it’s not always easy to solve these types of property crimes and rely heavily on the public for help.
The bicycle is described as a touring bike, dark blue frame with silver accents, “Napoli” written on the frame, two rear saddle backs (black/grey) and one mounted on the front.
Anyone with information on the bike's location is asked to contact investigators immediately at 204-986-2848.
- with a report from Jeff Keele