DEARBORN – State Rep. Alabas Farhat (D-Dearborn) was one of many who saw the heartbreaking footage on social media of a man stealing a 12-year-old boy’s bicycle on July 13.
The footage shows a man in red clothes standing over the boy. With his hands on the handlebars, he pushes the boy out of the way and rides off.
It happened on a busy street, so some people likely saw the exchange first-hand. However, it was the subsequent reaction online that helped bring the criminal to justice.
After the video caught fire and spread on social media, the suspect turned himself in, police said.
“I see a kid get manhandled off his bike,” Farhat told Fox 2 Detroit. “Someone who looks just like my niece and nephew and I’m disheartened. Right away I’m like ‘how can this happen?’ How does that happen in our community?”
But Farhat wasn’t interested in commentary on the thief. He was in his district recently to meet with the 12-year-old — and to give him a gift.
“To be someone who can step up when I saw that meant a lot,” he told a Fox 2 Detroit reporter. “I grew up and read stories of other people doing it and I thought this is my chance.”
It wouldn’t erase the trauma of being robbed. But it could give the child a new foundation of trust.
“We showed up to the house and I rang the family on the way there. They didn’t tell the kid — he was in the backyard playing with his brother and we pop in,” he said.
Video caught the moment the boy was surprised with the new bike, which Farhat purchased at a local Walmart.
“He was happy, he was back on that bike within 24 hours of the incident happening and that’s what we want, right?” Farhat said.
“Hopefully we send a message to folks that we want to be a community that loves each other and cares for each other and looks out for each other,” Farhat added. “If you are down on your luck we are here to help, but we are not here for stuff like that,” he said of the bike theft.