News Local

Vancouver Island teen's stolen Air Jordans replaced in 'grassroots effort'

 Harrison Mooney, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

After a Vancouver Island teenager was robbed of his Air Jordans during a visit to Port Angeles, the small, Washington state community rallied to replace them.

 

The shoes — a pair of limited-edition, red Air Jordan 5 Red Suedes, released this summer — were snatched from the teen's feet on Oct. 6 as he walked to his hotel room near Front and Peabody street. According to Port Angeles Police Chief Brian Smith, the teen was approached by a man on a BMX bike who brandished a can of pepper spray and forced him to give up the shoes.

In a very unfair trade, the suspect left his own shoes behind and fled the scene.

Officers from the Port Angeles Police spotted a man wearing the distinctive red sneakers later that same day, which Smith called "really remarkable." Unfortunately, they were unable to arrest the man when heavy rain caused a police dog to lose his scent.

Air Jordans are a common target for thieves, as they can often be resold online for far more than their retail price. Plus they look sharp. But Smith said violent crime of this sort is rare in his community, with its population of just under 20,000.

Unwilling to leave the young Canadian tourist with a bad impression of their home, the community raised the money to replace the shoes, which retail at $200.

“The people in the community had their own conversations about how they felt bad that had happened and they came together and pooled their money together," said Smith.

“It was just a groundswell, a grassroots effort.”

The fundraising effort was led by locals Lili Adams and the Rev. Joe DeScala of Mended church, who ordered the replacement shoes online after learning the local Athlete's Choice didn't have them — they were too rare.

“I think like a lot of people, we were just bummed to hear that happened to someone who came to visit Port Angeles,” DeScala told the Peninsula Daily News. “I — like a lot of people I spoke to — felt for that young man, and we needed to make it right.”

The donated shoes were dropped off at the police station, and Smith mailed them — at his own expense.

Smith said he's glad that the story has a happy ending.

“We’re not that different even though we’re different countries. We have the same values and we’re the same kind of people," he said. "I really wasn’t surprised.”

with files from Jennifer Saltman

hmooney@postmedia.com