Empty boxes shipped without Kristin Armstrong's gold medal bikes

Credit: Joe Savola

Empty boxes shipped without Kristin Armstrong's gold medal bikes

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by Scott Evans

Bio | Email | Follow: @ScottEvansKTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on September 12, 2012 at 6:29 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 4 at 10:32 PM

BOISE -- The two bicycles that Idaho's golden girl used in the 2012 London Olympic Games have been stolen. Now, Homeland Security is heading up an investigation to return them to Boise.

The bikes shipped from Germany on Sept. 7th and arrived in Boise on Sept. 11th. Somewhere between Europe and Idaho someone stole Kristin Armstrong's custom bikes - leaving her and her husband Joe Savola with two empty shipping boxes.

From the first time Savola held the boxes he knew something was wrong.

"At first it was disbelief and Kristin will attest to this, then there was the rage because I knew exactly what had happened," said Savola.

Savola's best guess is that someone opened the boxes from the bottom.

"These were banded; these were strapped with a synthetic strap, so they were locked in place. It wasn't like somebody could have easily taken them out," said Savola.

Savola believes the thief removed the straps, then the bikes. They then put the straps back on and sent the box to its next destination. Now, Savola is talking with Delta Cargo, the company that shipped the bikes to get answers. Homeland Security is also involved heading up the investigation since the bikes went through customs.

"My hope is, because we have very powerful security people helping us out here, that we can recover these bikes or at least one of them," said Savola.

For Armstrong and Savola these bikes are worth more to them than their $50,000 price tag.

"It was just a symbol of the dedication and hard work that we all put into it," said Savola "It is a bike, it's a materialistic thing, but it is a symbol of everything we went through, and that's the hard part.”

Savola spent upwards of 30 hours building the bikes.

"These are the only two bikes in existence,” said Savola. “They were specially painted, specially dedicated to Kristin, got her name on them, so there are no other bikes like that.”

This wasn't the first time someone stole Armstrong's bike. In 2009 someone stole her World Championship bike. It was never returned.

Now the two-time gold medalist and her husband are hoping for the best, while realizing they may never see these bikes again.

"You know it is a materialistic thing. It's not life and death, but it's something that we planned to pass down to Lucas, have him pass down to his children," said Savola.

Exergy Development Group, the company that sponsored the Exergy Tour in May, has offered a significant reward for information leading to the return of the bikes.

Homeland Security has agents both in the U.S. and Germany working to track down the bikes.

Anyone with information about this case should contact the HSI Tip-Line (24 hours a day) at (866) 347-2423 (from U.S., Mexico, Canada), 1-802-872-6199 (from any country in the world) or online at http://www.ice.gov/tips.

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