Del Anderson suffered a stroke 10 years ago that left him unable to communicate, along with other physical limitations. Since his stroke he has been unable to drive.
But Anderson, 62, a former business manager at Brainerd Community College and a former area insurance salesman, regained a bit of his independence in the form of the green men's Murray bicycle with a white basket that his wife Linda bought for him two years ago.
He could be seen biking nearly every day from the Anderson's south Brainerd apartment complex to several of his favorite haunts around town -- the YMCA, the Brainerd Public Library, his part-time job at Productive Alternatives, on the Paul Bunyan Trail, to the Moose Club and other locations. Linda estimated her husband must bike at least 10 miles a day during the summer months.
The stroke left his right hand partially paralyzed, which has made it difficult for him to use his bike chain to lock up his bike. As a result, Anderson's bike was stolen from his apartment complex a year ago. For some reason, the bike was returned a couple of days later.
But thieves have taken his bike again, and this time it probably won't be returned.
Anderson's bike was stolen again around 3:30 p.m. one afternoon two weeks ago shortly after he parked it behind the Moose Club. He went there to watch the men play cards, said Linda. About a half-hour later, Anderson went outside to go home and discovered his bike was missing.
It has yet to be found.
Linda often drives around town, checking wooded areas to see if someone has discarded her husband's bike somewhere.
Del has been riding his wife's bike, which doesn't have a basket, so he can at least go to work and run errands. Wherever he goes, he also searches for his bike, said Linda.
"I don't think at this point it will be returned," she said. "I just think there were some kids who were horsing around and stole it and dumped it someplace. The bike had no value to anyone else. It's probably thrown in a heap someplace, which is disgusting, because it was a good bike."
"Unfortunately, bikes are still a hot commodity, easy to steal if they're not locked up," said Brainerd Police Chief John Bolduc.
Bolduc said his department receives several reports of bike thefts each week.
In the meantime, the Andersons are hoping that someone will return Del's bike. If not, Linda said she will be buying her husband another one. He depends on a bicycle so much that he can't do without it.
To report a stolen bike, or if you happen to find Del Anderson's green men's Murray bicycle with a white basket, contact the Brainerd Police Department at 829-2805.
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