Teacher shaken by theft

Updated: May 14

UPDATE: As of May 14, city police had apprehended a suspect and Elliott-Birdsall was told they had retrieved her bike. She looks forward to riding it very soon.


When Cortland resident Kathleen Elliott-Birdsall discovered early Monday morning that her bicycle was stolen from her garage, she experienced a range of emotions.


Elliott-Birdsall's bicycle is similar to the one pictured here. It was stolen from her garage early Monday morning.

The Jamis road bike meant a lot to her, as it was a birthday gift from her siblings many years ago. An avid bicyclist, Elliott-Birdsall had logged many miles on the bike, circling a few Finger Likes and participating in the BonTon Roulette on it years back.


"I feel angry that somebody violated my personal space and felt as though it was OK to come in and take something that belonged to me," said Elliott-Birdsall in a recent interview.


However, as a special education teacher for third graders, whose life has been turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic, Elliott-Birdsall also wonders if the theft is a result of suffering.


"It makes me wonder about people suffering as a result of the pandemic and not able to do the things they need to do to make money or get around town," she said. "Part of me feels some measure of compassion."


Elliott-Birdsall reported the theft to the city police department and she has been pleased by their response. She says they have actively followed up with her and she is very happy they are taking the theft seriously and pursuing leads.


As a result of the social distancing measures in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Elliott-Birdsall has had to switch to a virtual platform to continue her special education lessons for Smith Intermediate School students.


"I miss my kids desperately," she said. "That physical proximity we have to one another in the classroom is essential for learning."


For the past several years, Elliott-Birdsall has commuted to her job via bicycle in the warm weather, and by walking in the cold months. She says the bike/walk week challenge put on by Seven Valleys Health Coalition years ago got her interested in walking and biking more and since then she's become an ardent proponent of active transportation options.


Kathleen Elliott-Birdsall, smiling on a recent sunny day.

"I was looking forward to the warmer weather, to get out on the bicycle," she said.


Luckily for Elliott-Birdsall, her sister has given her a road bike-it's just getting fixed up for her. She will be getting it once it is ready.


And Elliott-Birdsall is looking forward to riding it. It's not her Jamis, which she hopes is returned, but it will do.


"I love the freedom of being outside and being able to see things you wouldn't see if driving by in a vehicle, like the gold finches and the flowers," she said. "That makes me really happy."


Anyone with any information about Elliott-Birdsall's stolen bicycle can call the City Police Department at 607-753-3001, ext. 0. The line is open 24/7.



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