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Probe: February 6, 2001

February 06, 2001

WHEELS AGAIN! — To make this easier, I will call my friend, Dan. He suffers from Down's syndrome. When Dan left his bicycle unguarded for a few minutes last fall, a thief jumped on it and rode away.

Dan came to me distressed. The bike was his only form of transportation. Dan and I got into my car and drove around the neighborhood looking for the bike.

When we saw the thief riding the bicycle, I called El Centro police. A police officer came right away, caught and arrested the bicycle thief.

I congratulate the police on their speedy recovery but Dan still has no bicycle. The police kept the bicycle for evidence. It's been two months.

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When I called the police, they referred me to the district attorney. The routine is to keep recovered stolen property until the trial is over. The DA said that could be another month or two. They've already had the bike two months.

Can you help? Dan really needs his bike. — Dan's Friend, El Centro

District Attorney Gilbert Otero said the bicycle thief has been accused of a felony. It may be a year before the case is resolved.

However, it's possible the bicycle may not be necessary for the trial. The investigating officer at ECPD could decide to release the bike, Otero said.

El Centro police Capt. Eddie Madueño promised to put returning the bike at the top of his "to-do" list.

"I might be able to arrange it as early as (today)," he said.

QUESTION: Will you check out the Senior Advisory Homeowner Assistance Program for me? I called the 800 number in the letter my mother got. The response I got sounded fishy. Is it a scam? — Uneasy Son, Calexico

We don't think it's a scam. It's just an entrepreneur trying to make money providing a service your mother can do for herself — or you can do for her.

Call 353-3000. That will get you the "information and referral service" at the Area Agency on Aging. The agency will provide claim forms and may help you fill out the forms.

If you have Internet access, go to www.ftb.ca.gov, where you can download and print claim forms.

By the way, it's unlikely your mom will get a $816 property tax refund. The poorest seniors, those making under $8,498, are eligible for a refund of 96 percent of their year 2000 taxes.

At the top of the eligible income scale, seniors with a household income of $33,993 will get a refund of only 4 percent of their property taxes.

BUOYS ON A ROPE — Illegal immigrants trapped in the deadly currents of the All-American Canal are not the only people who might benefit by buoys on a rope.

My mother worries every time my 79-year-old father goes fishing. If the buoys save just one person, I am sure the person and his family would think the effort was well spent. — Buoyed, Calexico

Maybe you or your mom should go fishing with you dad. If he falls into the canal, we're not sure he would be able to make it to the ropes.

It's hard for us to deal with the nightmare vision of 20 young people dying in the canal every year.

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