MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There’s something about kids and their bikes, which is precisely why the story of Tom Lowery and his Raleigh 10-speed so special.

Recently, Wayzata Police were called about the bike, which was abandoned and left sitting near a dumpster for about three weeks. And when they ran a search before sending it to auction, the Raleigh turned up stolen — from Maple Plain more than 25 years ago.

“It’s pretty amazing,” said Chief Mike Risvold, of Wayzata Police. “I’ve been involved in law enforcement for 24 years, and this was stolen before I became a cop.”

Authorities used etchings from a popular police program from the 80s and 90s to track it down. That program was called “Operation Identification,” and it has since been replaced by computers.

“The last time I remember an operation ID success story? Probably back in the early 90s. It’s been a long time,” Risvold said.

Lowery — who is now an Eden Prairie Police officer — originally reported the bike stolen in the 80s.

“After more than a quarter of a century, it was fun to see a smile on his face when he was reunited with the bike,” Risvold said.

Operation Identification is long gone, but police tell us that keeping track of serial numbers is still important for bike owners.

In fact, they recommend bikers take digital photos of their bikes and their serial numbers…just in case they’re ever stolen.

John Lauritsen