Nation & World

A thief took his skateboard, so he made a heartfelt poster. Then Tony Hawk rolled in

The Reddit post that made the story of T.J. Roe’s stolen skateboard a viral hit.
The Reddit post that made the story of T.J. Roe’s stolen skateboard a viral hit. Reddit

What happened to T.J. Roe when the story of his stolen skateboard went viral on Reddit became more than a pipe dream when a man named Tony Hawk stepped in.

The story of the stolen Powell Ripper skateboard has such an unexpected twist that some people on Reddit — where it went viral with more than 20,000 comments — don’t believe it.

Here’s what happened, as reported by the Lincoln Star Journal.

Late last month someone stole the 37-year-old graphic designer’s skateboard out of his vehicle while it was parked near the University of Nebraska campus.

Figuring police had bigger crimes to solve than the theft of an old skateboard, Roe posted fliers downtown instead of calling the police.

He directly addressed the thief/thieves, first thanking them for not smashing out any windows when they they tried to cut out the battery.

He titled the poster: “I hope you enjoy my skateboard.”

“I wanted to tell them they took something that really meant a lot to me,” he told the Lincoln newspaper. “I wanted to get something down that expressed it.”

Roe told the thieves that what they stole from him was more than just a skateboard.

“You took something a 16-year-old kid bought working a minimum wage food service job in 1996,” he wrote. “Meaning it probably took me a week to earn something you took in a couple minutes.

“It’s a Powell Ripper slick and it’s pretty beefy. It’s been my travel companion in the trunk of 5 cars over 21 years.

“The Grind King trucks are lightweight and match the deck, you’ll need an allen wrench to adjust them. I have a special one if you want to borrow it.

“The bushings were swapped out in Santa Cruz in 2011 ... Every day after work in 2014 I skated to the Venice Fishing Pier and watched the Sun set over the Pacific Ocean on that board.

“Finally, I hope you appreciate the lyrics to Pantera’s “Floods” on the top. I paint-markered them in my friend Joe’s bedroom in 1997. He committed suicide after he got back from Iraq in 2009. His brother Noah died outside of Fallujah in 2004. We all used to skate together.

“Unless you can appreciate all of that as much as I do then maybe you should bring it back. If you can then best of luck to ya! That’s a lot of karma to handle and I hope you have a better life from now on.”

Roe told the newspaper he felt like he was writing his skateboard’s epitaph. He just knew he’d never see it again.

“I went through a range of emotions, was really just trying to decide what I was going to do,” he told Fox 42 in Omaha. “I’ve had things stolen and they weren’t recovered so I didn’t have any hope it would come back.”

Reddit user “toryhallelujah” posted a photo of Roe’s flier on Reddit last week, where it immediately attracted thousands of comments and became a top post.

“I assume Reddit or the internet in general is going to tear you apart, but there were so many really nice, supportive comments,” Roe told the newspaper.

Skateboarding icon Tony Hawk reached out to a Nebraska man whose skateboard was stolen last month. T.J. Roe Facebook

One of those Reddit comments came from skateboarding icon Hawk, who wrote: “I’m sorry to hear about your loss, and I hope the thief somehow sees your heartfelt message.”

Hawk also left a message on Roe’s Facebook page with a photo of a skateboard from his Birdhouse label he said he was sending to Roe in Nebraska.

But here’s the twist.

On Thursday, two weeks after it vanished, the skateboard came back, just as Roe was preparing to give interviews to two local media outlets.

He found it on the ground next to his van.

Will Hawk still send that skateboard anyway, Roe wonders?

He learned a lesson in all of this, too.

He said he’ll never again leave a skateboard in his vehicle.