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Homeless Man Faces 27 Years in Prison in Theft of Special Needs Bike in Burbank

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Surveillance video released by the Burbank Police Department shows a man sought in the theft of a bike designed for a boy with special needs.

BURBANK — A transient was charged Thursday with the theft of a three-wheel bicycle specially made for a child with cerebral palsy from a residential parking garage in Burbank, prosecutors said Friday.

Carlos Andres Lopez was facing one felony count each of first-degree residential burglary, grand theft of personal property exceeding $950 and second-degree vehicle burglary, according to a news release from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Lopez was accused of entering a secured garage at an apartment complex on Clybourn Avenue between Jan. 15 and Jan. 26, and stealing the bicycle worth more than $5,000, the DA’s office stated.

Lopez was also charged with stealing a sewing machine from the camper shell of a Ford Ranger at the same location, the release stated.

The bike, described as a “Berkel” brand (Pro 3), was specially designed for 13-year-old Damian Jeffries, who suffers from cerebral palsy.

Damien Jeffries told KTLA that the bike made him feel the same as other people. (Credit: KTLA)

Damien Jeffries told KTLA that the bike made him feel the same as other people. (Credit: KTLA)

According to investigators, an alert citizen who saw news reports about the stolen bike spotted the three-wheeler on the side of the road in Silver Lake several days after the theft.

The woman loaded the bike into her vehicle and called Burbank police, who returned it to Damian.

The bike took 18 months to customize and multiple fundraisers, sponsors and a special grant to cover the cost, according to Damian’s mother Allesha Jeffries.

According to his mother, the bike has a way of making Damian’s cerebral palsy disappear.

“People stare at those things that make him different,” she said. “When he’s in the bike, even though it’s a different bike, it’s a cool bike.”

The current charges against Lopez include allegations that he was previously convicted in nine separate cases between 1991 and 2011 for felonies that included grand theft, unlawful taking of a vehicle and first-degree residential burglary, the release stated.

Lopez faced a possible maximum sentence of 27 years and four months in state prison if convicted as charged.