A short but sweet story
August 26, 2013 11:49 AM   Subscribe

Vancouver woman steals bike back after seeing ad for it on Craigslist

A short but sweet story
posted by KokuRyu (90 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
The sweetest part was when she was like 'So if anyone wants to shit kick him maybe you can call him up.'
posted by box at 11:51 AM on August 26, 2013


I love how proud she is!
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:53 AM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Informing the police did no good, as an officer promised someone would eventually get around to it, but probably not today.

Good on her. If police continue to be indifferent to crime, it shouldn't be a surprise that people have to take the law into their own hands.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:54 AM on August 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


The hivemind has tackled this very problem.
posted by beagle at 11:54 AM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


aaaaaaaaand cue her arrest for grand theft, because police.
posted by nevercalm at 11:57 AM on August 26, 2013


Thanks to the generosity of another MeFite, I was recently the recipient of a very fine, slightly used, totally awesome mountain bike. In fact, it's a 1992 Cannondale M700 built up and badged by Cabela's Bridger Mountain Bikes, and in addition to registering it with the local authorities I told my entire social networks (publicly on G+) all about it including plenty of bitchin' pictures. Which means I have thousands of eyes looking out should it suddenly go missing.

Bike thieves can hang.
posted by carsonb at 11:57 AM on August 26, 2013


I love it. Good for her.

I've been lucky, but a lot of my friends have had their bikes stolen and they all tell the same story -- police don't care, so there's no risk whatever to the thief. I'm inclined to think states should add bikes to the grand theft auto statute -- maybe police will start taking thefts seriously when their stats go all to hell.

Although, judging from the police response when my wife's car was stolen two months ago, maybe that's naive of me, too.
posted by gauche at 11:57 AM on August 26, 2013


Well I'm glad this worked out but she REALLY should have called the magic Lawful Neutral bike police who care deeply about bike theft and who patrol the internet.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:58 AM on August 26, 2013 [21 favorites]


I did this when I was a teenager before craigslist. I got my bike back but I also got beat up several time in the parking lot on the way home from school by the gang who stole it. It turns out that Canada's young offenders act wasn't so helpful for young victims of crime.
posted by srboisvert at 12:00 PM on August 26, 2013


Similar: How I recovered my stolen bike a year later, in Seattle.
posted by GuyZero at 12:01 PM on August 26, 2013


Good for her!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:02 PM on August 26, 2013


I've had a couple of bikes stolen, plus a bike seat, plus various odds and ends on the bike itself, so I can totally understand her frustration. It would be even more frustrating if it was apparent the thief was a fucking idiot to boot (selling three blocks away on Craigslist). Add to that the frustration the police (rightfully) ignoring the issue.

A thousand clams is what it takes to buy a half-decent bike these days, and having a thousand bucks stolen off you by a complete idiot has got to sting.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:03 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh man, bike thieves. My loathing for them is only exceed by my loathing for investment bankers, art thieves, and gynoticians.
posted by ambrosia at 12:05 PM on August 26, 2013


Report a stolen _________ to the police, no profit for them, hence, no action.

Smell of pot in a car or house, and bring out the SWAT team, civil forfeiture is a big revenue stream for the cops. Talk about holding you up at the end of a gun barrel...
posted by dbiedny at 12:06 PM on August 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


An acquaintance got a bike stolen, but b/c she bought it using a Visa with one of those theft-insurance guarantees, she got the money back. I don't know the details of if it was all of it or some of it, but she did have to file a police report as proof.

So if you can get your hands on a credit card that offers some type of buyer's insurance like that, then use it when getting your bike, lest it gets stolen by some jerk in the future.
posted by bitteroldman at 12:07 PM on August 26, 2013


Part of the reason that I don't bike much is that I'm too afraid of it getting stolen and it's only a $500 bike.

Police around here will do zero about your stolen anything (bike, car, computer, etc).
posted by octothorpe at 12:08 PM on August 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


My car was destroyed by vandals. Not only did the cops not do any investigation, they didn't take statements from witnesses at the scene who offered to give statements and to provide their contact details. The case got misclassified as a minor misdemeanor, and the reason is simple: if the cops can discourage people from reporting crimes, or can bury felonies under labels that require no investigations, then their stats go up. Perverse incentives.

Good for her. If she sees the guys that wrecked my car for fun, I hope she finds a moment to throw them off of a cliff.
posted by 1adam12 at 12:12 PM on August 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I hope the guy learned to not pedal stolen goods.
posted by preparat at 12:13 PM on August 26, 2013 [38 favorites]


Go, her!

This weighs nearly as much as my road bike, but I feel very good leaving my bike with it.

It sucks a great deal that these tradeoffs are necessary.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 12:15 PM on August 26, 2013


aaaaaaaaand cue her arrest for grand theft, because police.

Hahaha. Hahahahahaha. HAHAHA. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!! The . . . police! PO. . .LIIICCEEE! A . . . RREST . . . GRA . . . THEFT . . .!!!!! . . . eee. .e .ha . . hah . . huh. In what alternate universe do the police spring into action to arrest bike thieves for grand theft - let alone those who are not accused by anyone of having stolen a bike and who are in possession only of a bike they actually own?
posted by The World Famous at 12:15 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


nevercalm:
> aaaaaaaaand cue her arrest for grand theft, because police.

No. Possession may be nine tenths of the law, but ownership is not transferred with theft. It was hers to take back.
If a policeman observed the exchange, and she couldn't demonstrate that the bike actually belonged to her, then the 9/10 thing comes in and she's probably jailed. And why not? Any observer without the benefit of context would say "she just stole a bike from that dude".
posted by tiaz at 12:16 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Heh, i've gotten chastised a bit for suggesting exactly this on AskMe. Now everyones jerkin' over it? Like really, what's going to happen in this type of situation?

A classmate in a rather interesting networking course i was in at college had his pride and joy freaking awesome Cinelli bike stolen from outside the college. Not really on the campus, on a big main busy street with tons of people milling around. He had a really fancy lock too.

He did the exact same thing as this story, pretty much word for word. With the added bonus that the cops said they'd show up at the arranged meet time and arrest the guy but just never did.

I did the exact same thing when someone stole my moms iphone out of her purse. Drove right to their house and confronted them at their own front door about it, walked away with the phone. Verizon refused to provide the location to me that they had last located it at, the thieves had turned the phone off, and the cops showed up took a statement and left not really seeming like they'd do anything. The way i got it was by looking at the bill and realizing they had made several calls on the phone, and calling those people and explaining the situation.

At one point also, me and my roommate had our bikes stolen by his ex girlfriend and her asshole friend who thought "it would be funny". We eventually got them back when we tried to get info to file an insurance claim. I completely forget how we even figured out it was them, but the process was hilarious and i remember the cops being utterly useless when called as well.

However, the time i tried the hardest(and actually seriously considered breaking an entering) but failed was when the macbook i purchased at the beginning of college got stolen. It was the most expensive thing i had ever bought, and i was really proud of myself for saving up the money to buy one. I had always wanted a nice new computer, and especially a nice new mac. I got it to learn and do music production stuff on, and would stay up late every night working on music stuff. I was absolutely enthralled with how fast and kickass and awesome everything about it was(I could have like 10 tracks going at the same time! with VSTs and samples and everything! it wouldn't even lag!)

And then, yea, someone stole it right out of my old house. Like that scene where Beavis and Buttheads tv gets stolen. Walked in to the house, picked it up, walked out.

Called the cops, they did nothing. Homeowners insurance at the house had a 2k deductible.(on what was, at most, a $1200 laptop)

Through a process of elimination i figured out who exactly had taken it by interrogating who lived there. Then i realized i knew several people who knew them. I found out what area they lived in, then i found out where his girlfriend worked. Then i called the store pretending to be her dad(and they actually gave me her schedule!). Then i found out from a long ago party listed on facebook where he lived, exactly. Now i could go and confront him when his girlfriend wasn't home and he wouldn't want to pretend he knew nothing.

He denied it up and down, and got all in our faces and everything. We staked the place out and contemplated B&E when neither of them were home. We collected more and more evidence that he did indeed have the laptop(Photos in which you could see it, pictures taken with the webcam that still had the EXIF, eye witness accounts of people who had been at his house and seen it there(he hadn't even changed the wallpaper at first! iirc).

Eventually he got in a huge violent fight with his girlfriend and threw it at a wall and smashed it. Several people recounted this to me.

Then him and his girlfriend threatened me at night, in a public park with a knife and brass knuckles for ever accusing him of it.

A lot of weird shit happened in my late teens/right around 20.
posted by emptythought at 12:17 PM on August 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


aaaaaaaaand cue her arrest for grand theft, because police.

Recovering one's own property is not grand theft. If she doesn't use force, it isn't theft.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:18 PM on August 26, 2013


Just to note that there have been studies on bike theft that show the reason so many bikes are stolen is that there is low risk, and almost nothing happens if you are caught. Go cops!

I'm against the death penalty, but may be willing to make exceptions for bike thieves.
posted by cccorlew at 12:20 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm really glad we don't have crack teams of bike-reclaiming police on my taxes.
posted by colie at 12:21 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


colie: "I'm really glad we don't have crack teams of bike-reclaiming police on my taxes."

What you mean to say is that you are glad we don't have police that care about theft of certain items you personally don't care about on your taxes.

Which is, you know, fine, albeit fairly selfish.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:24 PM on August 26, 2013 [17 favorites]


I'm against the death penalty, but may be willing to make exceptions for bike thieves.

Or just claim on insurance.
posted by colie at 12:26 PM on August 26, 2013


I'm really glad we don't have crack teams of bike-reclaiming police on my taxes.

I don't understand this. A lot of bikes cost roughly the same as a lot of people's inexpensive used cars. My first car purchased right after university cost $2,000, so a lot less than a lot of bikes. If it had been stolen, do you think the police would have been justified in refusing to help recover it based on the value of the car? Or is there something special about bikes that make them not worth taxpayer money, notwithstanding the fact that they are worth a lot of money and are a primary mode of transportation for a lot of people?
posted by The World Famous at 12:29 PM on August 26, 2013 [12 favorites]


Or just claim on insurance.

What sort of deductibles do you have where this works? (And doesn't leave you paying X times more than the bike in increased premiums)
posted by CrystalDave at 12:29 PM on August 26, 2013


Everyone paying slightly higher taxes to catch and deter bike thefts is unconscionable, but everyone paying higher insurance premiums because people keep getting their bike stolen is OK?
posted by muddgirl at 12:31 PM on August 26, 2013 [13 favorites]


Recovering one's own property is not grand theft. If she doesn't use force, it isn't theft.

And generally a valid claim of right to the property is a defense to theft whether force is used or not.
posted by Unified Theory at 12:32 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let's all get guns to defend our 2,000 dollar bikes.
posted by colie at 12:33 PM on August 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Everyone paying slightly higher taxes to catch and deter bike thefts is unconscionable, but everyone paying higher insurance premiums because people keep getting their bike stolen is OK?

This is somehow a libertarian bullshit thing. Because if everyone is paying higher taxes then that's like, socialism man. But if just the people whose shit gets stolen pay higher premiums then it's personal responsibility!

Or...something.
posted by emptythought at 12:33 PM on August 26, 2013


I don't think it is the value that is the problem. Police can get plenty excited about running down an Iphone. It is the wariness they have about getting involved in citizen-created stings or civil disputes (like whose property is whose.) I have a feeling having a GPS chip of some sort installed standard in bikes, that works like the Find my Iphone app, would go a long way toward getting officers more enthused about bike recovery.

As for stealing property back, I don't think the risk is being wrongfully arrested oneself -- there's no crime -- but that a more motivated thief might not just react by watching the property ride away. Playing outlaw means being in an outlaw milieu.
posted by bearwife at 12:34 PM on August 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Playing outlaw means being in an outlaw milieu.

I agree.
posted by colie at 12:35 PM on August 26, 2013


(I've had so many, many bikes stolen, ranging from fairly decent to thrift shop. I had a bike that had two flat tires and destroyed wheels and was a really, really cheap bike to begin withstolen off my glassed in front porch. (Admittedly, it wasn't locked because I was going to junk most of it, but the thief had to actually walk up on my porch to see if there was anything worth stealing up there, as it wasn't visible from the sidewalk. We routinely find signs that people have been on our porch over night looking for stuff to steal.

However! I have a Jamis Coda, which is a pretty good city bike, cost ~$600 new with a little discount and is sort of a blackish grey non-color. It's so nondescript that even I have trouble spotting it when it's chained up with other bikes. It does not look cool. It does not look old. It does not look like a hipster bike or a disastrous junker. It's the closest thing there is to actually being invisible; it's the bike that the cool-hunter girl would ride in Pattern Recognition if she rode a comparatively cheap bike. And although I U-lock it every time, I also feel like its invisibility is at least a little protection when it's in a group of other bikes. I would absolutely recommend both this bike and this colorway.)
posted by Frowner at 12:35 PM on August 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


But if just the people whose shit gets stolen pay higher premiums then it's personal responsibility!

Except that's not even how insurance works. If I live in an area where bike theft is common and people are regularly making insurance claims on their stolen bikes, my premium is higher, even if I don't own a bike. Just like my taxes would be higher in that area if we funded a police force who actually cared about theft.

It is the wariness they have about getting involved in citizen-created stings or civil disputes (like whose property is whose.)

One solution to that seems to be registering bikes like we register cars, although bikes don't have a huge, heavy engine block for VIN safety.
posted by muddgirl at 12:39 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


My bike was stolen from my town's train station just last Thursday. I've been watching Craigslist since but haven't seen it. When I went by the policy HQ to report it ("You have to come in, can't do it over the phone") the officer who took my report said "3 or 4" other people had already been in to report the same that night. At least a half-dozen more bikes locked up at the station had seats or wheels ripped off as well.

Completely bummed me out, bike was about 2mos old and I was so happy to be riding to the station. Not sure what action to take - buy another bike? Get a used beater because it's going to be stolen again? Buy an $80 lock? All of the above?
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 12:39 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


She tells the whole story on reddit here, ending with a shot of her naked ass and an invitation to the haters to kiss it.
posted by mediareport at 12:40 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


As for stealing property back, I don't think the risk is being wrongfully arrested oneself -- there's no crime -- but that a more motivated thief might not just react by watching the property ride away.

Except the thief likely knows that just stealing another bike - a very low risk activity that is rarely punished - is a much better choice than to try and fight a bike owner who was motivated and fearless enough to come after their stolen property. Not all thieves are rational actors, of course, but avoiding assault / whatever charges is probably a pretty good motivator for any serious career petty thief.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:40 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


aaaaaaaaand cue her arrest for grand theft, because police.

Yeah, this is the sort of thing that you tell your friends about, but not the fucking newspaper.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:43 PM on August 26, 2013


I'm really glad we don't have crack teams of bike-reclaiming police on my taxes.

Why not? It would be 10,000x more valuable than what they do now.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:44 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


[A few comments removed, cut it out already.]
posted by cortex at 12:44 PM on August 26, 2013


yeah, this is the sort of thing that you tell your friends about, but not the fucking newspaper Facebook.

sorry, forgot it was 2013.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:45 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Report a stolen _________ to the police, no profit for them, hence, no action.

Smell of pot in a car or house, and bring out the SWAT team, civil forfeiture is a big revenue stream for the cops.


I was going to say "hey, wait on, this is Vancouver, not Texas." But then, oops.
posted by yoink at 12:46 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Heh, i've gotten chastised a bit for suggesting exactly this on AskMe. Now everyones jerkin' over it?

I think if she'd asked "should I do this" on AskMe she'd have probably gotten mostly "nah, it's not worth it" replies. There are quite a lot of things that could have gone horribly wrong, after all. I think the "yay, go you!" response is mostly because we already know it worked out. Also, several of your stories involve going to the thief's house and confronting them directly with accusations of theft. That is really begging for something to go seriously awry. In general, lost property isn't worth getting beaten up over.
posted by yoink at 12:50 PM on August 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Wow, the photo of her arse cheeks at the end of her account is unnecessary.

"Three construction workers who had watched the whole thing go down made comments like ‘we knew something was up, there is no way a guy like that owns a bike like that.’ "

posted by colie at 12:51 PM on August 26, 2013


Just last Saturday I watched a guy and his sidekick try to pawn a bike. The pawn shop employee actually said to the guy "How many bikes do you have?" Considering the look, the size, and the dress of the of the guy trying to pawn the bike, and the clear quality of the bike, one could make a pretty educated guess that the bike was stolen. The pawn guy offered $5 bucks, probably knowing damn well he was going to have to turn the bike over to the police or the rightful owner in a few days....

Bu then, not 15 seconds after that statement, in to the store comes another guy all dressed in bike attire, helmet still on his head, roaring "You just stole that bike from in front on Jimmy Johns!" The guy and the sidekick mumble a couple non-nonsensical excuses before bolting out of the store, followed closely by all our laughter.
posted by lstanley at 12:52 PM on August 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


Except the thief likely knows that just stealing another bike - a very low risk activity that is rarely punished - is a much better choice than to try and fight a bike owner who was motivated and fearless enough to come after their stolen property.

It is indeed. But . . . she didn't actually announce herself as the owner until she was back home with her bike. So from his point of view, no reason not to go get the bike back again from the new thief except apathy or lack of wheels.

Also, I am sorry to say that by and large most of the people I have met who commit crimes are not the most rational and logical.
posted by bearwife at 12:52 PM on August 26, 2013


I hope the guy learned to not pedal stolen goods.


I dunno, you sound like kind of a crank...
posted by stenseng at 12:53 PM on August 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Look, we need to put the brakes on this line of discussion and shift gears. Let's get a handle on where the bar is set for theft and police intervention.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:53 PM on August 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


Hey man, don't try to derail her.
posted by jquinby at 12:54 PM on August 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm really glad we don't have crack teams of bike-reclaiming police on my taxes.

Actually, if some sort of arrangement could be made for bike groups to fund one dedicated bike-crime cop per large metro area, I bet you would see a huge decrease in theft. This of course assumes the rest of the legal system would give a shit.
posted by benzenedream at 12:55 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Good for her.
I'm super pissed about bad the police response is to stolen bikes.
Apparently the VPD does have bait bike program. It is so poorly advertised/funded that I'd never heard about it, and there's almost no info about it on the web.
posted by fruit sandwich at 12:58 PM on August 26, 2013


Apparently the VPD does have bait bike program.

Is that entrapment?
posted by colie at 1:01 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually, if some sort of arrangement could be made for bike groups to fund one dedicated bike-crime cop per large metro area, I bet you would see a huge decrease in theft. This of course assumes the rest of the legal system would give a shit.

Actually, I would say some sort of progressive drugs policy would go a long way towards eliminating property crime.

I lived in Victoria BC (across the water from Vancouver) up until the early 90's, and had bikes stolen pretty regularly. In fact, anything that wasn't secured to the bike would be stolen, including seats and quick-release collars for the seat.

I returned home from Japan to Victoria for six wretched months in 1996. Victoria was still in the midst of a decade-long recession, and the only work I could find was at a restaurant. I bought a Kona Kilauea to get to work. It was a nice bike, the nicest one I had owned up until that point (going from Cinder Cone to Explosif and up and on to Kilauea).

And it was stolen from work. Dammit!

So I went away for almost another entire decade. When we came back, Victoria had started some innovative programs to deal with a relatively high resident (and transient) population of heroin users, notably "wet beds" and needle exchanges.

So, over the last decade, property crime seems to be decreasing here. I leave my bike in front of my townhouse downtown, and no problems.

I attribute that to better integration of people living with addictions into Victoria's social fabric than Vancouver, which, by all accounts, still resembles a scene from hell.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:01 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, several of your stories involve going to the thief's house and confronting them directly with accusations of theft. That is really begging for something to go seriously awry. In general, lost property isn't worth getting beaten up over.

Yea, fair enough. Anything like this i've done since then i've done with a large group of friends present, and never alone. I helped a friend recover his stolen bike and when i arrived realized he had called everyone in his phone to see who could come downtown ASAP and amassed a crowd of something like 15 people to confront the thief.

It still almost got to a point where we had to physically take it from the guy, had i not flagged down a cop driving by, who radioed for some extra cops(BUT THEN ARRESTED THE DUDE, WOOO!).

He denied it up and down, but directed the cops to a well known front shop for crackheads to sell bike parts and bikes to that he had "bought the parts from", which mysteriously closed down a few months later. The cops seemed to immediately know the place.

After he got out of jail he sent my friend an email(my friend had found it on craigslist, and this was before the two-way anonymization they have now) saying the rest of the bike was locked up at XYZ location. Friend went there with a bolt cutters and ended up getting his entire bike back. Still rides it to this day.

I've definitely had more than a couple moments recovering stolen stuff the cops couldn't give a shit about where i thought "Oh shit, this is going to get physical". It never actually has, but the danger often felt "Unleashed large growling dog" distance away.

I'll also add that all of this has led me to be too paranoid to lock my current, pretty freaking awesome bike up basically anywhere. It either goes in my office, my house, a friends house, or into the store with me if i'm shopping somewhere. I think it's been locked up outside twice since i got it. I've also become paranoid in a lot of other ways about exposing basically any of my stuff to a situation where it seems probable it would be stolen, which is kinda depressing to me.
posted by emptythought at 1:07 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is that entrapment?

Not remotely. It's just lojacking a nice bike, waiting for it to get stolen, and following the GPS signal. Lots of cities have bait car programs.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 1:07 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually, if some sort of arrangement could be made for bike groups to fund one dedicated bike-crime cop per large metro area, I bet you would see a huge decrease in theft. This of course assumes the rest of the legal system would give a shit.

There was a Toronto cop who got into this big time in the mid 90s. The second part of the Steal This Bike documentary covers him in detail. Unfortunately, looks like that great bit of audio isn't online any more....
posted by Chuckles at 1:11 PM on August 26, 2013


> Is that entrapment?

Entrapment is a cop getting you to commit a crime that you otherwise wouldn't have committed. If someone were walking along and a dude hopped out of the bushes and said, "Hey, man, see this car? I checked and it's totally unlocked and the keys are in the ignition and I bet you could get off scot-free if you just got in and drove it away," and you did, and he chased after you and pulled out a badge and arrested you, then yeah, that'd probably be entrapment.

But simply parking a car somewhere wouldn't rise to that level.
posted by savetheclocktower at 1:15 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Someone once broke into my apartment by cutting the screen window and stole all the change out of my change jars (I had 3-4 of them on top of the fridge). The thief didn't take my bike or my computer. I've always been confused about that particular theft. Maybe someone needed quarters for the laundromat or just couldn't be bothered to fence my bike?

I called the cops and they took a report. I had the impression they were going to laugh at me for having bothered to call them the moment they left.

Apparently the VPD does have bait bike program.

Is that entrapment?


Are the cops trying to talk people into stealing the bait bike? "Hey, look at that nice, unlocked bike over there. I bet you could sell it for at least $300 on Craigslist. Why don't you take it? No one is watching?" "No, I don't want to" "Come on, you know you need the money", etc.
posted by Area Man at 1:20 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thoroughly approve of her action, and am pleased she got her bike back.

That said, if anyone thinks the police give even half a shit about petty theft, you are absolutely wrong.
posted by corb at 1:21 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have a thick, heavy Kryptonite chain and lock set. It cost $130 and I've had it for 9 years. The reason I've had it so long is because nobody has ever, ever managed to get through the damn thing.

If you have a nice bike, don't scrimp - get a good chain.
posted by Ghost Mode at 1:26 PM on August 26, 2013


As long as it's not a Kryptonite lock with a barrel key...
posted by stenseng at 1:37 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


If police continue to be indifferent to crime, it shouldn't be a surprise that people have to take the law into their own hands.

I have no idea how true it is, but I have heard that it isn't indifference so much as there is so much petty crime in Vancouver that they simply don't have the resources to fight it all.


I have a thick, heavy Kryptonite chain and lock set

If Superman is turning to crime we have bigger problems than bike theft.
posted by Hoopo at 2:05 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I called the cops and they took a report. I had the impression they were going to laugh at me for having bothered to call them the moment they left.

They broke into your house. It shouldn't matter what they stole. Breaking and entering is a crime in and of itself and is serious no matter what is done once the criminal is in your house.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:07 PM on August 26, 2013


Someone once broke into my apartment by cutting the screen window and stole all the change out of my change jars (I had 3-4 of them on top of the fridge). The thief didn't take my bike or my computer.

Criminals can be really stupid. Someone smashed the plate glass window of my T-shirt retail space back in '95, walked right past a brand new Mac, a cash box with $2000.00 in it, & stole... about 2 dozen T-shirts. The worst part about the whole thing was the 500 bucks we had to spend replacing the floor-to-ceiling window he smashed.

Another time, one climbed in through our exhaust fan, which was about 10 ft. up the alley wall, and before he could grab any loot, he set off the burglar alarm, and when he ran for it, he put a foot on the carousel platen on my manual press, which turned out from under him as he tried to climb back up to the fan, and he must have wiped out HARD on the table next to the press, which was covered in open ink cans and dirty, inky squeegees. There were cans & spatulas and squeegees all over the floor, and inky hand & footprints all over the table and wall & the fan, where he climbed back out between the blades of the 36" fan. Not sure if he had a vehicle parked in the alley that he landed on, but there wasn't any ink in the alley, so my best guess is that he inked the upholstery of whatever he was driving pretty good, too.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:24 PM on August 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


Yep, at my old house someone threw a GIANT rock through my back door. A rock. Like a basketball sized one. There was a trail of broken glass from the door to the front of the stove where the rock was laying in a dent in the metal. It was one of the most comically cartoon things i'd ever seen.

They stole a couple laptops and my SLR, but left the cords for almost everything(and the batteries and charger for the camera) and a TON of other obvious stuff like my then brand new ipad and so much other stuff i can't even remember to list it(more laptops/desktops, nice stereo gear, game systems, etc). They also took a box of costume jewelry, and left all the nice jewelry right next to it.

Oh, and they didn't steal my really nice bike just sitting in the living room either.

The worst part of the whole thing, similar to devils rancher's story, is that the landlord balked and drug her feet on replacing the windows and fixing the door. She eventually screwed a big sheet of plexi over it, but the broken window had duct tape on it until i moved out six months later. That stupid door with it's plywood and eventually plexi served as a constant reminder to the stupid breakin.

I was also pretty annoyed that my partners laptop, and possibly the camera just ended up in a dumpster. Because where could the guy fence stuff he couldn't even prove worked? If he did, he probably got like $5 for all my shit.

Later that week someone tried to break in to my car with a screwdriver or something, and the drivers door lock has been janky and hard to unlock ever since(and it would be an expensive, totally not worth it repair to fix). They also broke in to my partners car and left the doors hanging open in the rain... and stole nothing. Just tossed the entire thing and left it hanging open.

This wasn't even in a bad neighborhood.

Ugh.
posted by emptythought at 2:37 PM on August 26, 2013


A friend of mine's husband had his bike stolen. They're Burners, so of course the thing is covered in fur. Friend told various friends and coworkers about this, and one of her coworkers spotted the bike riding by one day.... The guy claimed he "got it from someone else," but they got the bike back.

Good for her.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:40 PM on August 26, 2013


Potomac_Avenue: Well I'm glad this worked out but she REALLY should have called the magic Lawful Neutral bike police who care deeply about bike theft and who patrol the internet.

Now I know that this was meant sarcastically, but almost the exact same situation happened to me, and the above is just about exactly what I did. It actually worked out pretty well!

~4 years ago I had left my bike parked outside the Engineering buildings at UBC. I was using a cable lock since my u-lock had jammed the week before. Needless to say, a cable lock was a mistake. I walk out after class; the lock was lying severed on the ground and my bike was nowhere to be seen. I called the police dept and left a report of the theft, but in all honesty I really didn't expect anything to come of it -- bike theft is an unfortunate fact of life on campus and there's very little you can do afterward.

Cue forward to three months later. My father is down by Jericho beach when he happens to glance up and see my bike cycling by! He goes chasing after the bike, and the guy riding it fortunately stops when he sees my dad running after him. This guy naturally denies everything and claims he bought it a few months ago on Craigslist. My dad can't do anything in the moment of course, so after the guy continues on his way my dad comes racing home to tell me that he has found my bike.

"Magic Lawful Neutral" is actually a pretty damn good way of describing the VPD officer who met us down by the sailing club 20 minutes later. The guy who had been riding my bike had locked it right by the entrance and it was easy to spot. The officer first confirmed that the bike's serial number matched the one in the police report I had filed, and then asked us a few other questions regarding the situation and what had happened. He then disappeared inside the sailing club, and reappeared with the manager and a giant pair of bolt cutters 5 minutes later. Snip-snip and I was riding home inside of 10 minutes -- no hassle with claims or paperwork or anything else. Probably the best experiences I have ever had with the VPD.

Oh, and the officer left the previous 'owner' of my bike his card, with a message saying to call if he had any questions about the possession of stolen property.
posted by Arandia at 3:11 PM on August 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


At least people in this thread can commiserate with fellow bike lovers and theft victims.

My beloved late 90s red/orange Trek was taken from basement storage in my apartment last winter. I'd never had a problem in the other complex I'd lived in, so it was a sad and eye-opening way to learn I'd apparently moved to an area of higher thefts.

I tried so hard to find it, mostly as a way of not caving in to the frustrated, helpless feeling a property crime against a prized possession brings. (The only crime comparable in its affect on me was the vandalism of my violin when I was in college.)

I didn't have insurance at the time, but with a new-replacement value under $500, it would've fallen within my deductible anyway. I still haven't replaced it yet, and I sure have missed biking this spring/ summer. (At least I have better access to other recreation like water sports here.)

Long way of saying, if anyone within 100 miles of Detroit knows of a cheap-but-still-good condition used Trek (say 13-14 in. frame) for sale, I'd be interested in buying. And since they're not that common, if you ever SEE someone with a small reddish 820 WSD ...
posted by NorthernLite at 3:16 PM on August 26, 2013


The simple joy of the outcome of this story reminds me of that piece John Oliver did on The Daily Show a year or two (or more) ago, about the man who got to repossess some property from a bank. Oliver kept insisting that this was THE BEST NEWS STORY EVER! (BTW if anyone knows a link to it, please share.)
posted by anothermug at 3:20 PM on August 26, 2013


I tried so hard to find it, mostly as a way of not caving in to the frustrated, helpless feeling a property crime against a prized possession brings. (The only crime comparable in its affect on me was the vandalism of my violin when I was in college.)

Violin vandalism? Wow, that's evil.
posted by Area Man at 3:23 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I called the cops and they took a report. I had the impression they were going to laugh at me for having bothered to call them the moment they left.

They broke into your house. It shouldn't matter what they stole. Breaking and entering is a crime in and of itself and is serious no matter what is done once the criminal is in your house.


It's my understanding that a housebreaker is likely to contrinue breaking into a house, often in the same neighborhood, often using the same methods. After a report, conscious cops will increase their patrol of the area.

Of course, your mileage may vary with local police. But I always report a crime.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:23 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


For all I know, the police later did a great job of focusing on burglaries in the neighborhood, and the theft was kind of funny if you don't focus on the housebreaking part. One those jars held nothing but pennies.
posted by Area Man at 3:34 PM on August 26, 2013


This from the Seattle PD is not exactly a special forces cell of bike recovery, but it's more than nothing. seattlebikeblog
posted by ctmf at 5:24 PM on August 26, 2013


While they have their issues, the San Jose police were extremely helpful the one time I have had to report a theft. Minor but annoying to lose stuff kept disappearing from my yard, finally culminating in 25 pounds of birdseed in a newly brought storage container. I spotted it on a neighbor's balcony, she denied it and said I better call the police if I wanted to come back on her porch. I did, an officer showed up no more than 45 minutes later, went to talk to her, came back and told me I could get my stuff (I also found most of the other things that had disappeared), which I did, while she talked to the neighbor some more (about her meds and not stealing from people.) Offered me the chance to file a police report, which I declined. Given the total worth of everything stolen was probably under $100, I thought that was quite good service, and it wasn't like I lived in a rich person neighborhood.

Sadly, I think she may have recently returned to stealing small items, but it's been over 5 years without any trouble, so it must have been a pretty good lecture.
posted by tavella at 5:28 PM on August 26, 2013


The tenth circle of hell is reserved for bike thiefs. The kiddie pool is for bad punners AND YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.
posted by nowhere man at 6:02 PM on August 26, 2013


In the Boston area, police are trying a couple of different approaches to curb bike thefts, including a bait bike (just ripe for the picking, but with a built-in GPS device for police tracking) and a cop who never takes a break.
posted by adamg at 6:18 PM on August 26, 2013


File the police report. Protect yourself.

Someone I knew stole my bike, back in 1982 when I lived in LA. Before I even knew it was stolen, he crashed it into a Mercedes and ended up in the hospital with a broken leg (serves you right). I got the bike back, totally destroyed. It was a nice bike too, I tried to replace it, and was quoted $3500 (in 1982, that's about $8500 in 2013 dollars). The thief squealed to the Mercedes owner who promptly tried to sue me for the scratches on his car.

I went to the cops and filed a Grand Theft report, and told the cops about the Mercedes owner. The thief disappeared from the hospital and could not be prosecuted. The cops told the Mercedes owner to take a hike. I ended up with no bike and no reimbursement, but at least I got rid of the nuisance lawsuit.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:48 PM on August 26, 2013


Vancouver's bait bike program did catch two people this month.
posted by wenat at 8:05 PM on August 26, 2013


Everyone paying slightly higher taxes to catch and deter bike thefts is unconscionable, but everyone paying higher insurance premiums because people keep getting their bike stolen is OK?

Neither is actually OK because in the real world the slightly higher taxes wouldn't actually fund deterring bike theft and paying higher insurance premiums will again only result in a claim being denied anyway and insurance going up further. Legalized scamming is alive and well.
posted by juiceCake at 8:30 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


People stealing your ride or your tools (laptop, for most of us) do arouse the desire for summary justice. If someone steals your money, it is bad, but you can go make more money. But steal the means to get to a job, or to do a job, and you have seriously damaged someone's life. These guys should be grateful every day that there are police and courts and jails in effect; in other times, they were just executed at once.
posted by thelonius at 3:30 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


My first car purchased right after university cost $2,000, so a lot less than a lot of bikes.

Christ, dude, your bike doesn't have to be made of recycled platinum to be nice to ride. A decent, secondhand city bike will cost you a tenth of that.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:25 AM on August 27, 2013


The tenth circle of hell is reserved for bike thiefs.

As it is the season ... I had my bike stolen the first day I arrived at Burning Man. While I was in the porta-john. Taking a pee. That's not right.

People stealing your ride or your tools (laptop, for most of us) do arouse the desire for summary justice.

Interesting. I'm not sure people feel the same way about their cars (unless perhaps heavily customized?), but yes, I know the feeling, several times.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:13 AM on August 27, 2013


Around 3-4 years ago, my (now ex) wifes car was stolen. It was quite a distinctive car, a Nissan Figaro (not the actual car in this image though!) - made even more distinctive by the fact our mechanic applied some bonnet and boot stickers the wrong way round - so the sticker for the bonnet was on the boot, and vice versa. Anyways, being a bit of an internet geek, I did what you'd naturally do and scour the usual suspects (UK based here, so eBay and gumtree etc). Sure enough, a car looking suspiciously familiar appeared on eBay, based about 15-20 miles from my home. Naturally, I contacted the police. They advised me not to contact the seller, because it might "raise suspicion", and that they would update us later that day, or the following morning with what they planned to do about it.

There was no update for 3 days, and when I phoned them back again, they advised that I *should* contact the seller, because "it would speed things up", since the auction was due to end soon. Turns out if they did it, they had to contact eBay and get the registered names and addresses that way, rather than just contacting the seller directly. So, I arranged a viewing, thinking the police would sort it before I actually had to do anything more with the information. Passed this on to the police, who apparently sent somebody to the address. There was nobody home, and the car wasn't there. But there wasn't anything else they could really do at the time - remembering that they'd told me contacting the seller via eBay might arouse suspicion, but then sending a policeman round to check out the address was ok...? Right, then.

So their next official advice was that there was "nothing stopping me viewing the car, and calling them if it was definitely ours". Their other "official" advice was that if my key for it still worked, I could just drive it off then and there. So I was due to drive over to do the viewing, just to confirm suspicions as much as anything, because there's still only so much you can see from small auction photos - and then the police phoned me again. They said they "weren't sure it was a good idea to proceed with a viewing, because it was a 'known address' to the police and it could get dangerous if they got suspicious". Great, thanks for that, really helped with my peace of mind. It was at this point, that I'd realised I had stupidly given them my real mobile number when arranging the visit... So pointed this out to the police, and that it was their advice that I had even contacted them, and so *not* showing up would probably have been just as suspicious. The policeman on the phone said he'd confer with the person dealing the case, and phone me straight back. Didn't happen. No call, nothing. So they just left me there to decide for myself whether to head to a "known" and "potentially dangerous" situation or not.

So I went over to the address, and confirmed it was definitely our car - just with new plates, and new locks (so unfortunately/luckily, I couldn't just drive off in it), and slightly less miles. There were a few minor bits and pieces that confirmed it (extras that my wife had bought, and had done to the car), and I even had to play it cool to get him to "demonstrate" the upgraded stereo, by playing the blank-looking home-recorded (but not labelled) CD that was sitting there. Sure enough, it was a CD that I'd burned for my wife, which kind of sealed it funnily enough. Was a pretty big, scary looking guy, and I'd already taken a load of photos of the car sat on the road before knocking on his door, to try to prove it was ours. It was kind of nerve-wracking, trying to then take subtle pictures that then also had the seller stood behind the car, so he was "recorded" as part of the selling.

I'd been advised to phone the number at the station who were dealing with the case in case anything did transpire, which I did - the second I'd got back to my car, which I'd parked a couple of streets away. They still did *nothing*! I found out afterwards (a bit Duh! on my part, to be fair), that I could/should have called 999 as soon as I was out of the car and around the corner, since it was a crime in progress. When I chased up (again), they suggested I could go back, and if it were still there, call 999 this time! I really didn't fancy that, since I'd pretty much done everything you might want to do when viewing a car for sale, including the test drive etc. And he really didn't look like somebody I wanted to upset.

Anyways, eventually they sent somebody round there, who checked out the car, and they phoned me from the scene, asking me to describe all the little bits that convinced me that it was ours, and they *still* weren't 100% convinced, because the VIN on the chassis didn't match, but the MOT and log book etc provided matched with the "new" VIN! Found out afterwards, that they'd filed it off, and welded another one (from a scrapped Figaro found around the corner in fact) over the top of it. It was only after a 20 minute conversation with me (whilst there, with the seller and the car), and then the police starting to ask the guy more questions that convinced them, because he suddenly started changing his story. "It's not my car, I'm selling it on behalf of my brother". "Er, he's in France". "Er, uncontactable". The car was then impounded, to undergo expert analysis etc.

We finally got it back, and after we'd collected it, the officer said: "I expect you're feeling a bit let-down, having read through all of these notes...".

Erm, anyway, that went on a lot longer than I intended and was probably a little bit dull overall, I do apologise. I know in the grand scheme of things, it's not that big a crime - particularly in comparison to a lot of what does go on, but still.
posted by thingonaspring at 10:35 AM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Christ, dude, your bike doesn't have to be made of recycled platinum to be nice to ride. A decent, secondhand city bike will cost you a tenth of that.

Shit, yea i totally missed that one. That's like what? Unless you're getting something brand new and italian, or something hand made(both of which are completely legit, but not my point) you can get a slightly older even high end bike for under a grand. I've never owned a bike that cost more than $600 and my last 3 or 4 have been either the entry level high end, or just second to/top of the line bike from 5-10 years ago. My current one is that from the late 80s.

you can go out and spend $200-300 and get an awesome bike. And not just like a commuter bike or something, but something that in the late 80s or early 90s was an entry level proper road or even road racing bike like an old cannondale, steel trek, trek 1200/1400, etc. maybe even a klein if you're lucky. And maybe even better stuff if you're really the crocodile hunter of craigslist about it. I don't know anyone except for my bosses who have bikes that cost more than $2k. And some of the people i know have giant OCRs and stuff they bought as a bare frame and built up for like $500. Unless i go to the bike trail on a nice day and someones race training or just trying to be hardcore and pass everyone i never even seen bikes like that out and around.

My freaking car didn't even cost 2k o_o
posted by emptythought at 1:59 PM on August 27, 2013


When I read this post yesterday, the subject of bicycle or automobile theft was purely academic to me. Today, it's real, after the dealership where I'd left my wife's car for service on Saturday called to say it was missing. I've filed a police report and an insurance claim. Both the police officer and the insurance adjuster seem to believe our chances of getting it back are good. We'll see.
posted by ogooglebar at 3:58 PM on August 27, 2013


The simple joy of the outcome of this story reminds me of that piece John Oliver did on The Daily Show a year or two (or more) ago, about the man who got to repossess some property from a bank. Oliver kept insisting that this was THE BEST NEWS STORY EVER! (BTW if anyone knows a link to it, please share.)

The Forecloser

(previously)
posted by ActingTheGoat at 3:59 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just saw this segment on the local evening news.
posted by islander at 6:32 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


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