ANDERSON — Serynity Ricketts was devastated when her brand-new bike was stolen the day after her eighth birthday, but an Anderson Police Department officer made up for it by buying her a new bike.
Officer Matt Jarrett was patrolling the area when he saw two officers responding to a call at Serynity’s house on the 1900 block of Main Street in Anderson.
Two teenage boys who had been bullying children in the neighborhood reportedly came into the Ricketts’ yard to steal her Dynacraft bicycle that read “Girl Talk.”
“That was my first big girl bike I ever had,” Serynity said.
Bobbey Ricketts, Serynity’s mother, said Serynity wasn’t even expecting the bike because they had told her not to.
“She was told she wasn’t getting a bike because of financial reasons but we were able to pull it off,” Bobbey said.
Bobbey picked up Serynity from a church group and told her the bad news Wednesday evening. Serynity immediately offered up the $13 of birthday money she received to go toward a new bike.
Teenage boys had been bullying Serynity and other children in the neighborhood for weeks, Bobbey said. It started with name calling in the alley, but the behavior seemed to escalate week by week.
This week, the boys threw gravel that had been soaked in a green chemical liquid that Bobbey believed to be anti-freeze or something similar at the neighborhood kids. She said her son has marks on his face from the chemical-covered rocks.
“I think they don’t have moms that care about them,” Serynity said to explain the boys’ behavior.
The boys stole Serynity’s bike on Wednesday. Bobbey said the boys hadn’t terrorized the children outside of the alley, let alone in her yard, but they came into her yard to get the bike.
Police responded to the incident. The boys weren’t found, but the tassels to the bike were.
Jarrett said it was clear then that even if they could recover the bike, it had been damaged within minutes and had probably been destroyed.
He said he kept wondering if the family had the means to replace the bike as he drove around. When he asked Brad Ricketts if they had the means to replace the bike, Brad hesitated.
“It took everything we had to buy this bike, and for it to be taken away, it was devastating,” Brad said.
Jarrett asked the family for a description of the bike, and the family showed them pictures of Syrenity with her bike.
“He showed me a picture and how happy she was on it, and I just had to do it,” he said.
Serynity ran across the street to hug Jarrett when he and one of APD's sergeants showed up with a bike that is identical to the one she received on her birthday.
Jarrett said he didn’t buy Serynity a new bike to look like a good guy.
“It kind of justifies the job,” he said.
Jarrett said he thought of his children and his oldest daughter and how he would have felt if he couldn’t afford to replace her bike if it were stolen.
Bobbey shared the news in a private message with Madison County Safety Alerts – Anderson Scanner group on Facebook, who then posted Bobbey and Serynity’s story.
As of 5:30 p.m. Thursday, the post had 1,087 shares and was liked by more than 2,000 people. Almost 200 comments flooded the post, praising Jarrett.
Bobbey said she sent the page a message about their story because officers get a lot of bad flack these days, but police officers do good work.
“Our goal was to have the younger kids see that the officers are not what they have been made out to be lately,” she said.
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