Cape officer, Masonic Lodge pitch in to buy bike for teen
A Cape Coral family never expected their story of a stolen bicycle would end the way it did.
Jonathan Yarter, 13, was riding his red Subrosa BMX around town a few weeks ago when he was stopped by a group of boys. One of the boys asked to borrow Jonathan’s bicycle to show him a trick, but he had another idea in mind. When Jonathan handed over his bicycle, the boy took off with it.
“He called me on the phone,” Tammy Yarter, his mother, said. “He was devastated.”
She explained that the bicycle had recently been a gift from a stranger. Jonathan had been riding his bicycle in the area of Del Prado Boulevard and Viscaya Parkway when he was struck by a driver.
“She just bumped him into the street,” Yarter said, adding there were thankfully no vehicles.
“He didn’t get too hurt,” she said. “He was more scared than anything.”
The bicycle Jonathan was riding, however, was destroyed.
“It was the last present from his grandfather,” Yarter said. “The woman was very apologetic.”
The driver offered to replace his bicycle and did so, gifting him the red bicycle.
Over Easter weekend, Cape Police Cpl. Raymond Schilke responded to a call of a recovered stolen bicycle. Yarter and her son had been out looking for the stolen Subrosa when they found a bicycle that looked like Jonathan’s parked outside of a home. Believing they had found it, they contacted police.
“When I ran the serial number, it was not the bike,” Schilke said.
“He started crying,” he added. “It was as if his bike just got stolen again.”
Schilke explained that the incident tugged at him.
“I have a son and I wouldn’t want to see my son go through that,” he said.
Pulling up the original theft report, Schilke found some potential follow-up work on the case. He eventually tracked down the suspect, who admitted to the crime and said the bicycle was gone.
“I was the smaller kid when I was young, so I’ve been there before,” Schilke said.
“I decided I was going to get this kid a bike one way or another,” he added.
A member of the Cape Coral Masonic Lodge No. 367, Schilke turned to his brothers. With the lodge’s and a few other Cape officers’ help, he pulled together around $400 to get Jonathan a new bicycle.
“I might have come up with the idea, but they were the means to get it done,” he said.
After contacting Hollywood Bicycle Center, at 2728 Santa Barbara Blvd., Schilke began putting together a plan to surprise Jonathan. He also reached out to Yarter and let her in on the secret.
“I couldn’t believe that they were doing this for him,” she said.
“I was so happy for Jonathan,” Yarter added.
On April 1, Schilke picked up Jonathan with the “story” that they were going to look for his bicycle. When they pulled up to the Hollywood Bicycle, he told the teen the truth – he was getting a new one.
“He was super excited, but it was mostly disbelief,” Schilke said.
Jonathan explained that he was surprised.
“It was cool,” he said.
“I was really happy cause I could ride a bike again,” Jonathan added. “I like riding bikes.”
He selected a black BMX-style Fitbike.
“It has green rims and green grips on it,” Jonathan said. “I love it.”
Yarter confirmed that her son loves his new bicycle.
“He’s riding it every day,” she said.
The family thanked everyone who played a part.
“We’re just very thankful and appreciative of everything everyone has done,” Yarter said.
“He’s happy that everything ended up the way it ended up,” she added.
But the story does not end there. Schilke had enough donation money leftover to buy a few bicycle helmets to hand out to youth who need them, and Jonathan may get involved with Lodge No. 367. The organization has been wanting to start a group for youths and Jonathan may be a founding member.