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Unique vehicle goes missing in River Falls

Walking up to his apartment building at 218 West Charlotte Street on the evening of Sunday, Oct. 14, Kirk Chaffee glanced at his bright yellow "velomobile" outside and figured it was safe. So this time he skipped his usual routine of locking it up and removing the pedals.

The next morning Chaffee saw the mistake he made -- his enclosed, motorized, recumbent bike was gone, stolen.

As he recounts the tale, Chaffee chuckles because he figures the thieves got a little more than they bargained for when they took the velomobile. He had had taken the battery and other various items out, which would make it a "tough ride" since it's also a heavy bike.

Bought around three years ago in Minneapolis, the velomoblie is an imported vehicle from Denmark.

Selling for about $13,000 to $15,000, Chaffee describes the velomobile as a fun to have as well as unique. Chaffee estimates that there can't be more than 50 in the U.S.

The owner of two other recumbent bikes, who has switched to pedal power transportation and doesn't own a car, says the bikes pay for themselves with the money saved on fuel costs.

With a carbon fiber top and three wheel suspension, the velomobile is a "serious piece of equipment," said Chaffee.

When asked about winter travel, Chaffee smiles and says that one just has to pedal harder and wear a bit more clothing -- as well as bring the shell down to cover the driver -- to stay warm.

While he has no leads on the theft, Chaffee hopes to get back his bright yellow velomobile with the scuff on the front.

If that doesn't happen, Chaffee has a positive outlook: "It's possible it might turn up, but if not, I had a wonderful time. It was worth every penny."

If you have any information about Chaffee's missing velomobile, contact the River Falls Police at 715-425-0909 or area Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

For the full story, see the Oct. 25print editoin of the Journal.

Jillian Dexheimer

Jillian Dexheimer has been a copy editor and reporter for the River Falls Journal since 2011. She previously worked for the River Falls Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau. Dexheimer holds a sociology degree from UW-River Falls.