San Francisco

Red Panda's Custom-Made Unicycle Stolen From SFO: Police

A custom-made unicycle that belongs to a renowned acrobat was swiped at San Francisco International Airport last week, and police have released surveillance images of the suspect.

The $25,000 unicycle, which was inside a black roller suitcase when it was stolen from Terminal 3 on Jan. 24, belongs to Rong Niu, aka the Red Panda, a popular halftime performer at pro and college basketball games, San Francisco police said.

SFPD/Getty Images file
Surveillance images of a man suspected of stealing a custom-made unicycle (center) from San Francisco International Airport.

The suspect walked into the baggage claim area and stole the suitcase from Carousel 5, police said.

Niu, a San Francisco resident,  was featured on "America's Got Talent" a few years ago. Her neighbor, Lilly Wu, calls her Crystal when they walk dogs together.

"I can’t imagine it has re-sale value," Wu said. "It has great sentimental and personal, well, and professional value to Crystal, so I certainly hope that whoever took it returns it."

Niu is best known for her unicycle and bowl flipping act, a halftime crowd-pleaser at NBA and major college basketball games across the country.

When word got out that her unicycle was stolen, basketball teams began spreading the word to help find the culprit.

The Westchester Knicks tweeted this: "If you give Red Panda back her unicycle, that’ll be the end of it. We will not look for you."

And the Louisiana State University team offered a reward – a crawfish boil – and custom LSU gear.

The suspect appears to be a white man with red hair in a ponytail and a full beard. He was last seen wearing a white, long-sleeved shirt, gray or dark-colored pants and black Skechers shoes, police said.

Niu could not be reached for cpmment Wednesday. Wu said she's busiest during the NBA season, but when she's at home, she often practices as a San Francisco church because it has vaulted ceilings.

Anyone who can identify the suspect or locates the unicycle is asked to contact the SFPD Airport Cargo Officers at 650-821-7530.

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