Antioch police officer recovers tricycle for girl with special needs

ANTIOCH, Calif. (KGO) -- An Antioch police officer's dogged determination has reunited a specially built tricycle with a girl with special needs.

The East Bay Times reported Thursday that an Antioch Police officer arrested a 24-year-old man discovered riding the $4,000 tricycle late Tuesday.

It started Monday morning when Charlotte Luther's father saw a woman steal the tricycle from his yard in Antioch. He was unable to catch the thief.

The tricycle was specially built for Charlotte, who has a brain tumor and limited use of her right side. The trike includes a back rest, steering assist bar and pedal pulley system and was obtained through the Great Bike Giveaway, a national campaign to raise money for adaptive bikes for kids with special needs.

"Even before the brain tumor, she wasn't really stable," said Cate Luther, Charlotte's mother. "This was the first bike she's ever had where she could actually ride it. She had this smile on her face, a sense of independence. She was just loving it."

Charlotte was also returning home Monday afternoon after a brief hospital stay to treat her tumor.

After Officer Dan Fachner took the family's report Monday, he went to work finding the trike.

Working the graveyard shift Tuesday, Fachner searched the neighborhood, interviewing as many people as he could. A transient woman told the officer she saw the tricycle in a nearby neighborhood. The tip panned out. The officer arrested Matthew Jefferson on suspicion of stealing the trike. Fachner said Jefferson told him he found the trike.

Charlotte wanted to thank the officers who found the thief and her bike. She also had a message she wanted to share. "The more love you give away, the more you'll get in return. And that's just the truth about love," she said.

Jefferson remains in jail Thursday. It's not clear if he's obtained a lawyer.
Copyright © 2019 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.