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Justice in Brooklyn
August 6, 2010 12:07 PM   Subscribe

Justice in Brooklyn My bike got stolen last night and goddamn if I didn’t have it back before noon today, thanks to a curious but powerful mixture of internet savvy, a responsive police force, and one very special “Law and Order” fan.
posted by shannonm (64 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
a friend of mine one got his car stolen in san fran and randomly saw it on the street 2 weeks later. he still had the keys on his keyring so he just stole it back. he said the back seat was filled with children's toys and they'd thrown out all his mixtapes, but had kept a casette single of purple rain.
posted by nathancaswell at 12:13 PM on August 6, 2010 [30 favorites]


That seriously made me smile. Because, you know, this world can be a shitty place but sometimes it's NOT. And that makes me happy.
posted by devinemissk at 12:15 PM on August 6, 2010


DOONK DOONK!
posted by mattdidthat at 12:17 PM on August 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


"I consulted with Maura, who (1) knows everything about the internet and (2) has watched pretty much every single episode of “Law and Order.” Both of these things combined together means she is basically a cop."

Do you think that includes the spin-offs?
posted by edbles at 12:20 PM on August 6, 2010


There was a very similar story here in Toronto a year back.
posted by chunking express at 12:20 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups--the police, who investigate crimes, and the bloggers who look for stolen bikes on CraigsList. These are their stories.
posted by mattdidthat at 12:20 PM on August 6, 2010 [59 favorites]


It's nice when it works out. One time my bike was stolen when I had a job putting up posters. There really wasn't any way I could get around enough to do the job without it. I went to the police but they didn't really take the report seriously and there isn't much they can do anyway. I searched for it on my own and asked people for help but no one seemed to care. I thought I saw the guy who took it once and tried to get the police to help but there really wasn't any evidence and his friends backed up his story.

I was short on money and I really didn't think I could find another job with the economy the way it was, so, much to my shame I stole a bike from someone else. In a stroke of bad luck a police officer saw me and I was caught red handed. Luckily the owner decided not to press charges, but it was humiliating anyway and I think I learned my lesson. Two wrongs don't make a right.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:22 PM on August 6, 2010 [19 favorites]


Mmmmm. Peter Luger steaks!
posted by ericb at 12:22 PM on August 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


When I was a baby, my stroller was stolen off the stoop. This was Soviet Russia, in the 80s, and it was one of those old-school, hand-built strollers that were pretty much a chamber on wheels. Anyway, one day my mom's out about town and she notices a woman with what appeared to be my stroller, empty. My mother, never meek, came right up to her:

"Where did you get that stroller?"
"The store."
"Really? You didn't see it in front of an apartment building and walk off with it?"
"No, I got it at the store."
"...and did the store sew in the pocket on the top of the inside?"

The woman's eyes widen and she walks away without saying one more word, leaving my mother with the stroller.
posted by griphus at 12:23 PM on August 6, 2010 [13 favorites]


His description of the Arcade Fire concert was hilarious. I tuned in for a few minutes last night before the stream killed Firefox (which never crashes for me) and I have to say I don't see it.

Congrats on him for getting his bike back, though.
posted by Eideteker at 12:27 PM on August 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I was a kid some roving gang of teenagers stole my bike from in front of my house. My dad drove around in his car and found them. I don't know what he said or did to them but I got my bike back and they took off running every time they were on my street when he came home from work.
posted by ghharr at 12:27 PM on August 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I got a call one July 4 asking if I owned an Impala. "yeah, why?" apparently it had been stolen off the service station lot, driven to the bad part of town, and dumped. All before I noticed it missing.

The lock has never been the same, and I miss the original plastic steering wheel. But worst of all, the fuckers threw away the binder full of four years' worth of engineering notes.

Apparently, a neighbor near where it was dumped noticed that 1) the car was much too nice for the neighborhood 2) it obviously didn't have any brakes. So these guys drove ten miles with nothing but the E brake. Proof that criminals are *not* smart.
posted by notsnot at 12:34 PM on August 6, 2010


Law & Order "South Williamsburg"

Stabler: "I don't get it, they're just stealing random puppies from strangers?"
Benson: "Not random, first night MGMT played at Seaport Music Festival, they struck again during Terry Gilliam's Arcade Fire concert ... stole 3 Daschunds and a Goldendoodle, went right into the apartment, it was almost surgical."
Stabler: "They're striking when Williamsburg is collectively at a concert."
Ice-T: "That's not all, look what these sick kids are doing to them on Tumblr."

(Ice-T holds up a picture of a puppy dressed up as a hipster)

Stabler: "How are we going to catch them? We'd have to read Pitchfork almost daily to figure out what concerts are going on tonight, we don't have enough men to read through all those blog posts."
Ice-T: "Easy, I tweeted about a cupcake concert at Milk & Honey tonight ..."
Benson: "And our perps gotta be there."
Ice-T: "The only thing their sweet tooth will get them is time in front of a judge."

DONK DONK
posted by geoff. at 12:35 PM on August 6, 2010 [59 favorites]


like
posted by bricksNmortar at 12:39 PM on August 6, 2010


My wife had her iphone nabbed on a bus on the south side of chicago about 6 months ago. She phoned me in Boston on a borrowed cellphone and I started tracking the phone using MobileMe. Eventually, she flagged down a cop, who had her call me back on his cellphone and I sat there guiding them to the thief. My hands were trembling and I was hitting refresh on the mobile me website every 30 seconds. Eventually we worked out that the phone was on another bus, so the cop called for backup, they surrounded the bus and stormed it from the front and the back. I had been sending messages to the phone all along, but then I realized I could also make it send an audible beep, so I kept doing that. Turns out some kid had stuffed it into his underwear and he kept trying to deny that a beeping noise was coming out of his junk.

In the end, my wife got her phone back, the cops were totally jazzed about catching a thief in action and recovering the property, and I felt better about having paid $150 for MobileMe in the first place. The whole thing felt very 21st century, frankly. Right down to being a white person who can fairly quickly call upon 3 squads of heavily armed police to defend their property.
posted by felix betachat at 12:43 PM on August 6, 2010 [24 favorites]


wait! the cops are good guys in this??? They helped? They were "the shit" according to the writer?

They didn't kill anyone, they didn't taze anyone, they didn't stomp on anyone's constitutional rights?

And, 13 comments in here at Metafilter, nobody had made note of that.
posted by HuronBob at 12:45 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had my car stolen twice in St Louis. Got it back both times a couple days later. The first time the police returned my car, it had a couple roaches in it and some home made rap CD's. Apparently, the Chrysler I had at the time could be stolen with a flat head screwdriver and a hammer.

I had been storing my Cannondale mountain bike in the trunk of my car the second time it was stolen; it wasn't there when I got my car back. I was so f-ing pissed.
posted by gagglezoomer at 12:47 PM on August 6, 2010


It's nice when it works out. One time my bike was stolen when I had a job putting up posters. There really wasn't any way I could get around enough to do the job without it. I went to the police but they didn't really take the report seriously and there isn't much they can do anyway. I searched for it on my own and asked people for help but no one seemed to care. I thought I saw the guy who took it once and tried to get the police to help but there really wasn't any evidence and his friends backed up his story.

I was short on money and I really didn't think I could find another job with the economy the way it was, so, much to my shame I stole a bike from someone else. In a stroke of bad luck a police officer saw me and I was caught red handed. Luckily the owner decided not to press charges, but it was humiliating anyway and I think I learned my lesson. Two wrongs don't make a right.


I only get this because of knowledge I've picked up on MeFi.

INTERNET COMES FULL CIRCLE!
posted by djgh at 12:47 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]



wait! the cops are good guys in this??? They helped? They were "the shit" according to the writer?

They didn't kill anyone, they didn't taze anyone, they didn't stomp on anyone's constitutional rights?

And, 13 comments in here at Metafilter, nobody had made note of that.


They want a cookie?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:48 PM on August 6, 2010


His description of the Arcade Fire concert was hilarious. I tuned in for a few minutes last night before the stream killed Firefox (which never crashes for me) and I have to say I don't see it.

Congrats on him for getting his bike back, though.


HER description of the Arcade Fire concert. Congrats to HER to getting HER bike back.

The woman's name is all over the damn website.
posted by micawber at 12:56 PM on August 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


wait! the cops are good guys in this??? They helped? They were "the shit" according to the writer?

They didn't kill anyone, they didn't taze anyone, they didn't stomp on anyone's constitutional rights?

And, 13 comments in here at Metafilter, nobody had made note of that.


Generally, I don't make it a point to congratulate people when they are doing what they're already supposed to be doing, either, but if you think that's appropriate, congrats HuronBob on not molesting your children today! You get a gold star. Make sure you don't molest them tomorrow either.
posted by shen1138 at 1:03 PM on August 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


And, 13 comments in here at Metafilter, nobody had made note of that.

Does that make you nobody then?
posted by grubi at 1:05 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because you just mentioned it, see...
posted by grubi at 1:06 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Doonk Doonk? I just don't get it. What was(is)that suppose to mean.
posted by rmhsinc at 1:08 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I came here expecting the band to perform in Brooklyn. I'm leaving with a great story resonating in my head. New York is such a tough pond. Glad that these happy ending stories can still happen.
posted by Vomiaouaf at 1:08 PM on August 6, 2010


Great story, perfectly told.

If you don't see what HuronBob is getting at, you are ignorant of the history of cop-related threads on MetaFilter-- whether deliberately or not.
posted by jamjam at 1:23 PM on August 6, 2010


rmhsinc: the "doonk doonk" (aka doink doink) refers to that hypnotic sound effect used on Law and Order in between scenes.
posted by shannonm at 1:26 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Made my day reading this.

And I have a suggestion for a hot new anti-theft technology this young woman could employ to prevent losing her pretty yellow Schwinn ever again: I saw a bike parked today with a large glob of dog poo smeared on the saddle. It wasn't locked, and nobody seemed to want to steal it.
posted by richyoung at 1:28 PM on August 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Hey, I know her! Haven't seen her in years, but I bet she's still very cool.

And what a great story.

I miss New York. :)
posted by Mo Nickels at 1:29 PM on August 6, 2010


I had my car stolen twice in St Louis. Got it back both times a couple days later. The first time the police returned my car, it had a couple roaches in it and some home made rap CD's. Apparently, the Chrysler I had at the time could be stolen with a flat head screwdriver and a hammer.

I had the exact same thing happen to me in St. Louis. Only got the car back after it was first wrapped around a fire hydrant. St. Louis is rather notorious for auto theft. There are joyridding rings operating around the city that steal cars basically at will.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:33 PM on August 6, 2010


Doonk Doonk? I just don't get it. What was(is)that suppose to mean.

law_and_order_doink_doink_sound
posted by zarah at 1:35 PM on August 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


wait! the cops are good guys in this??? They helped? They were "the shit" according to the writer?

Cops are intrinsically supposed to be the good guys, and they sure are "the shit" when they do help.
But let me ask this rhetorically so people don't feel compelled to derail. Have you ever been in a situation where they did not help? Where it was obviously in their power to help, but all you got was some shrugged shoulders and a "it's not our job" answer? Yeah, it kind of sucks. Big time.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:37 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


CHUNG CHUNG
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 1:39 PM on August 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


And, 13 comments in here at Metafilter, nobody had made note of that.

How ever many comments down into a MeFi thread about someone from Williamsburg who goes to an Arcade Fire concert and gets her bike stolen and no fixie jokes yet? Seriously, MeFi, you people are slipping.
posted by The Bellman at 1:49 PM on August 6, 2010


and no fixie jokes yet?

I was too busy waxing my ironic mustache.
posted by felix betachat at 1:50 PM on August 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Low hanging fruit, Bellman. The true challenge will be to throw a fixie joke into the next Julian Assange or Cordoba Project FPP.
posted by griphus at 1:51 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah. It's "CHUNG CHUNG" I have no idea why anyone would translate that as "doonk doonk"
posted by delmoi at 1:54 PM on August 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


My true crime story: some 24 years ago, I lived in a rooming house that was owned and run by a guy who'd lost his lower legs to diabetes and had one of those electric scooter-carts to get around on. He went inside one day and when he came out, the cart was gone. He told me, I told him I'd keep an eye out for it, and whaddaya know, I saw some kids riding around on it about a block away. It was the only criminal trial I've ever testified in, but unfortunately the cops didn't get the perps to confess to actually taking it. Still, I felt like a proper junior crimefighte.r
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:01 PM on August 6, 2010


Low hanging fruit, Bellman. The true challenge will be to throw a fixie joke into the next Julian Assange or Cordoba Project FPP.

So, I was talking to one of my friends on his stoop on Bedford the other week. This was right when the whole nontroversy over the Cordoba house had flared up, and a lot of people were misinformed. He was all like, yeah, I totally support the right for anyone to build a house of worship anywhere—it's in the constitution and all—but right on the goddamn rubble?, I dunno if I can support that, etc, etc.

I ran into him a week later on the Kent bike lane; he was riding his sweet new fixie to and fro, hoping to wind up in some transplants' Missed Connection. When I filled him in on the info, he totally changed his mind and had to backpedal all the way home.
posted by defenestration at 2:04 PM on August 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


HuronBob: "wait! the cops are good guys in this??? They helped? They were "the shit" according to the writer?

They didn't kill anyone, they didn't taze anyone, they didn't stomp on anyone's constitutional rights?

And, 13 comments in here at Metafilter, nobody had made note of that.
"

I made a mental note but didn't feel a need to type it out here. A nice story can stand on it's own, can't it?
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:08 PM on August 6, 2010


wait! the cops are good guys in this??? They helped? They were "the shit" according to the writer?

Well, it helps that this is a completely fictional account. I mean, really, several "undercover cops" swarming on a bike thief? And the dramatic tale ends with a cop telling the narrator he or she could "join the force" because of all of the internet research and craigslist searching? Riiiiight.

It's an interesting concept, but this writer needs to come up with a more plausible narrative.
posted by cmonkey at 2:29 PM on August 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure if you're joking or not, cmonkey, but based on my experience living here, none of that sounds unreasonable.
posted by defenestration at 2:31 PM on August 6, 2010


Had my bike stolen once from the racks outside my old grad school. I was amazed at how organized the thief was. I had removed the seat so it wouldn't get stolen and the thief actually brought their own (his getaway was witnessed by a fellow student from the window). Luckily for me, the thief tried to strike again the next week and was nabbed by campus police (teenage boy rollerblading through campus while pushing a bike = get stopped and questioned). Got the bike back and it had a nice new seat and very nice new bull bars (which were stripped from the bike a few months later...sigh). The cops were excellent throughout but I also go pretty lucky.
posted by Hutch at 2:40 PM on August 6, 2010


Many years ago, I was working late at one of my first jobs. I stepped outside to take a break, and from across the street I heard a loud *crack*. A group of four guys had opened the back of a car and they were hurriedly rummaging through it. I began walking toward them to investigate, and as I got closer, I could see they were loading things into their car. By the time I'd gotten to the sidewalk, they'd seen me approaching so they piled into their car and sped off--but not before I got their license plate number.

I went inside, called the cops, and went back outside to wait. About ten minutes later, another group of four or five heavyset guys walked up and spotted their burglarized car. As they were lamenting the burglary, I introduced myself--and right about then, the cops showed up.

One cop talked with the car's owner, while another sat in his cruiser and wrote down what I'd seen. When I told him I had the license plate number, he typed it into his onboard computer--and on the screen was the year, make, and model of the car I'd seen . . . along with the thief's name and address.

The cops told the owner of the car they'd begin an investigation but they couldn't do anything that night, since they didn't catch the thieves in the act. After the cops left, the owner of the car thanked me for getting the license plate and calling the police, and added, "I really wish I could've caught those bastards myself."

"Well, perhaps you can." I said, handing him the scrap of paper on which I'd scribbled the information from the cop's computer. "Here's his license plate number, the year, make, and model of his car, and his name and address. Good luck."

The owner's mouth formed a perfect O, and he shook my hand hard, saying, "You're the man! You're the man! Guys, let's go!" And off they sped into the night.
posted by mattdidthat at 2:44 PM on August 6, 2010 [15 favorites]


I too went to the Arcade Fire show last night, and I took have had a stolen bike returned to me in NYC.

Spoon and AC were great, but what was up with that violin guy before Spoon? Not my jam.

In the winter of 2005 the MTA went on strike, which is the reason I went looking for my bike in December only to find my front wheel and bike lock hanging from a pipe in the storage room. I lived in Stuyvesant Town at the time, and those storage room doors were ALWAYS being propped open by some jackass in the building, which is how the thief got it.

(I blame myself for only locking the front wheel to the rail -- a mistake I have never repeated.)

About a month later I was walking east on 14th street and I spotted by blue Specialized Hardrock with the stickers of naked cartoon ladies on the front fork and mismatched wheels locked up to the 3rd ave L stop in front of a Chinese restaurant. As I called the cops I spotted a delivery guy come out, unlock the bike and ride away with a couple of bags of food. NYPD rolled up before he got back and I explained the situation. When he did return they basically swarmed him, but had to go inside to get someone who spoke English and could explain that they bought the bike from some dude about a month earlier.

Same as the nice lady in the linked story -- the cops gave me my bike back with a friendly smile and a cheerful "dude, nobody EVER gets a bike back." Cheers, NYPD!
posted by ben242 at 2:54 PM on August 6, 2010


"Do you think that includes the spin-offs?"

I have seen every CI episode and every episode of the flagship. The others, no.

- the Maura in question
posted by maura at 3:12 PM on August 6, 2010 [25 favorites]


wait! the cops are good guys in this??? They helped? They were "the shit" according to the writer?

Somewhere between a cartoonish depiction of police officers as agents of the devil, and Dudley Doright, the truth lies. Crazy, I know.
posted by Dark Messiah at 3:14 PM on August 6, 2010


Law and Order: Class C Misdemeanor
posted by xod at 3:29 PM on August 6, 2010


Sweet story. Also, bikes and Craigslist and crime and junkies means I have an excuse to post one of my favourite things on the Internet: Hey Crackhead.
posted by Hartster at 3:33 PM on August 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


"The woman's name is all over the damn website."

Scuse me for not knowing what the hell a "Jami" was. There ARE guys named Jamie, you know.
posted by Eideteker at 3:41 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


A great story, but also really well told. A+, would steal again.

I have seen every CI episode and every episode of the flagship. The others, no.

If you haven't watched SVU, you could definitely date a Mefi. You don't ever check Megan's List, do you? It's just like a list of guys who are awesome dates and stuff.

"...and did the store sew in the pocket on the top of the inside?"

You'd hardly credit it, but back in high school my friend left what was, at the time, a fairly rare baseball hat in the lunchroom. The person who took it insisted it was his and yes, he had written my friend's last name in the sweatband.
posted by yerfatma at 4:47 PM on August 6, 2010


I saw a bike parked today with a large glob of dog poo smeared on the saddle. It wasn't locked, and nobody seemed to want to steal it.

Junkies will not care if they can get five bucks for one part off that bike. The junkie whose target that will become just hadn't come along yet.
posted by mendel at 5:00 PM on August 6, 2010


Ha, yerfatma, I've watched SVU. I just haven't kept up with every episode, especially as it's devolved into sub-Lifetime Movie territory.
posted by maura at 5:10 PM on August 6, 2010


Well, CI is the best spin-off, after all.
posted by Gin and Comics at 5:52 PM on August 6, 2010


especially as it's devolved into sub-Lifetime Movie territory

"devolved"? Oh no, it had nowhere to go but up. That show is the bastard child of the L&O Universe to me. I'll leave the rest of my thoughts on the matter in the obituary.

posted by yerfatma at 6:00 PM on August 6, 2010


I got into biking more seriously than ever before when gas spiked a couple summers ago.

I quickly joined a collective, started buying old bikes to restore, etc. I also splurged (for me) on a recent Trek someone had fixed up really nicely for commuting that fit me perfectly, and a Fuji with a Reynolds 853 frame and a decent component group--needed an overhaul as it had been a college track athlete's training bike, but I was jazzed. So I had those two, a nice early 80s Motobecane I was fixing up (two or three rungs down from the top of their line), and a Cannondale that had been made into a SS (really, really light) that I had barely had a chance to ride yet. (I may be forgetting one more.)

One day, I left my building for a while (maybe two hours) and when I came back they were gone. All I was left with was the his and hers Triumph 3-speeds and Raleigh Twenty I had taken upstairs to photograph--and, bafflingly, a Peugeot PX-10 that was in the garage but apparently looked too rough to the thieves to take (guess I got lucky there, but it's hard to feel it.)

The cops, predictably, couldn't have been less interested. People in the bike community were sympathetic, but without really being tight with any cliques and not attending group rides, no one really knew me or my bikes that well and I never heard of any spottings.

I took flyers around to bike shops, but at a few of them I got the sense that if they saw the bikes it wouldn't be me they'd call. This sentiment was later echoed by some other people with more experience in the community, sadly.

The kicker? About 9 months later the cops busted a bike thief in the Venice area who had all kinds of bikes including many that were taken from my area. I found out about this later, as a few people who were likely victims of the same crew got their bikes back a while after they had written them off. But the cop assigned to my case never bothered to call.

By the time I found out about it, the "evidence" had been sold to PropertyRoom.com for liquidation (of which the cops get a big cut, of course.)

A couple days ago I saw an MSNBC bumper piece touting PropertyRoom.com as a great All-American internet business helping the police and the community. I almost vomited.

I've tried to retain and rebuild my interest in bikes, and immediately collected another batch of bikes to fix up--but the downturn hit, my collective moved further away--further than I can comfortably ride, and I started working a regular job.

Thus, I've never truly recovered from the gut-punch that was that theft, so I'm really gratified to hear that something like this happened. And not surprised at the unusual measures required.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:12 PM on August 6, 2010


I'm really gratified to hear that something like this happened. And not surprised at the unusual measures required.

You mean that a lot of elbow grease and a ton of luck was required to catch a thief? That's why theft exists, because it's asymmetric: you only have to leave your guard down once. I want to be more sympathetic, but the notion of a bike collective makes me want to run people over.
posted by yerfatma at 8:58 PM on August 6, 2010


I helped with a sting trying to catch some guys for credit card fraud when I was 25. I was working for this weird startup business -- we had a little catalog of iconic "New York souvenir" type gifts we left in the rooms in some hotels, the idea being that if you called us we'd deliver you a pre-wrapped thing by the time you checked out the following morning, so if you were a businessman only in town for one day you could bring your kid back something from FAO Schwarz or your wife something from MoMA Design Store even though you hadn't had time to shop.

We got an order for 3 watches one day, from two guys who said they were record executives looking for gifts for clients they were meeting in town. The guys wanted them right away "for our meeting tonight". We were so broke at that point that we said sure, and I was the only person there so they had me bring the watches over -- only instead of bringing them to the front desk, the way we usually did, the guys asked if I could bring them to their room. I did, handing the bag over to these two guys happily, and then heading back to the office -- the boss and I were so happy about the sale that we didn't realize I'd forgotten to check their signature against their credit card, the way we were supposed to. But then the guys called back the next day and ordered a couple more watches "and a couple necklaces for our girlfriends". I again was the only delivery person there at that point, and they asked me up to their room again -- but this time I remembered to ask to see their credit card signature, and they fed me some strange story about how their signature was "on file at the front desk and this would be on their hotel bill". They implied strongly that "other hotels do this this way, I'm surprised you never heard of it," and I dubiously went along with it.

But when I got back to the office, my boss said that they'd called him only ten minutes after I left for their hotel, asking where I was and "they sounded nervous." I told him about the "on file at the front desk" thing, we looked at each other a minute, and then he called the credit card company to ask, "...does this sound weird to you?" The credit card company said, yes, it certainly did. They forwarded the call to their fraud unit, and they told my boss to call security at the hotel -- the hotel also got the local precinct involved, and asked my boss to get over there to join security and the cops in confronting the guys if they were there. My boss left, leaving me to man the office alone.

Then fifteen minutes later, my boss called from the hotel -- "The police say that since you actually saw the guys, you're a witness, and they need you here to identify them."

So little 25-year-old me, scared to death, spent the next hour in a back room at the New York Sheraton in Times Square with my boss, the head of hotel security, and 3 plainclothes cops. The guys weren't in their room at the time, and hotel security had a couple guys keeping tabs on their room to see if they came back; meanwhile the cops were on a tag-team taking statements from me and the credit card company, trying to figure out if the guys had the actual card they were using or just the number, and contacting the legit card holder to see if they'd authorized their using it. Ostensibly, if the guys came back while we were there, they'd hold them in the room, bring me up, and have me ID them. After an hour, they still hadn't showed up, so the cops made a date with me to pick me up at home at about 7 the following morning, and they'd bring me back to the hotel to try to ID them again. We all said our goodbyes, and the cops got into their unmarked car to drive off as my boss and I started the 15-block walk back to our office.

And ONE BLOCK AWAY FROM THE HOTEL, my boss and I passed the very two guys we'd been waiting for as they were RETURNING to the hotel. I saw them, and recognized them immediately but made myself remain calm -- especially when I saw them do a little bit of a take when they saw me (a sort of, "...I know you from somewhere, don't I?" take).

My boss, who'd spent the last hour hearing me describe them, grabbed my arm when we were far enough out of earshot. "That was them, wasn't it?"

"Uh-huh."

My boss pushed me towards a payphone. "Call the cops," he hissed. "get them to the hotel. I'll follow them back to the hotel and make sure that's where they're going." And he turned around to tail them while I frantically called the precinct. This had happened so suddenly our cops hadn't even gotten back to the squad house yet, so I spent a frantic five minutes screaming, "No, I need OFFICER HENDERSON! I NEED TO TALK TO OFFICER HENDERSON!" into the phone before Officer Henderson finally walked in. I told him what happened, and he and his partners turned right back around, got back in a car, picked me up on that corner, and brought me back to the hotel where they whisked me up to the guy's floor. Hotel security confirmed they were in the room, and then they asked me to wait about 20 feet down the hall where I watched, wide-eyed, as the three cops walked into the guys' room, guns drawn. "Hi, can we talk to you guys a minute?" I heard them say before the door shut. Then I didn't hear anything (and was quietly panicking) until one of the officers poked his head out the door and called me in.

I went in -- two of the cops had the guys cuffed and the third was poking through drawers in the room, looking for the watches. "Were these guys both in the room both times you delivered the goods?" "uh-huh." "Who signed for the packages?" I pointed at one guy -- "he did the first time, I forget who did the second time." "But they were both in the room both times?" "Uh-huh." "Thank you - can you go down to the lobby and wait for us?"

I went down in a daze to meet my boss, who was giddy as a kid playing cops-and-robbers and pumped me for info for a few minutes until the cops walked the guys out through the lobby in cuffs. They asked me whether I'd be willing to be a witness if the case went to a Grand Jury trial, and I just dazedly said, "uh...yeah," and they thanked me and we went home. Where I finally totally freaked out.

I never was called to witness, and we never recovered the goods, but that was still one hell of an involvement in a "sting operation."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:11 PM on August 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was short on money and I really didn't think I could find another job with the economy the way it was, so, much to my shame I stole a bike from someone else.

There is only one thief in the Army. Everyone else is just trying to get their shit back.
posted by Evilspork at 11:03 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Somebody stole my car a few years back. Wasn't the nicest ride, but when it disappeared it had a bag in the trunk with some really important papers in it. The cops eventually found it -- some joyriders had taken it -- and when I went to the impound lot to pick it up of course the bag was gone.

The police weren't exactly helpful about trying to track down the thief, but then we found a piece of paper in the back that had the thief's name on it! Idiot had left it in the car! So I call this buddy of mine who usually has some ideas about what to do in situations like this, and right away he tracks down who the guy is (a teenager) and where he lives. I really needed those papers back, so we decide to go visit the kid and ask for them.

So me and this friend and another buddy head out to the thief's house way up in the San Fernando valley. Actually it's his parents' house, and it turns out the kid's dad is some famous writer or something. We get there and his dad's all sick and can't help us out, and the kid refuses to say a word. He won't tell us where my bag is. He won't say ANYTHING. And I'm getting pretty frustrated, I don't want to press charges or anything, I just want my stuff. My friend is getting in his face, demanding the bag back, but the kid says nothing.

And then my buddy just loses it. He's got a bit of a temper problem and he just flipped out. He says the kid's going to pay, so he goes outside, goes to the car, picks up a crow bar and starts smashing the shit out of the kid's car, parked right there in front of the house. He's screaming and shouting and going nuts, waking up the whole neighborhood, smashing this kid's car to hell. "THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU FUCK A STRANGER IN THE ASS!"

Only it turns out that wasn't the kid's car.

(Never did get those papers back.)
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 12:26 AM on August 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


By the time I found out about it, the "evidence" had been sold to PropertyRoom.com for liquidation

I was a bit surprised that the police returned the bike in question. I was under the impression that it's SOP to hold stolen property as evidence and then sell it. I've heard more than one story along those lines.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:28 AM on August 7, 2010


I want to be more sympathetic, but the notion of a bike collective makes me want to run people over.

posted by yerfatma


Eponysterical or just douchalicious?

(This is a metafilter thread about bike theft, not a CarForums thread about how bicycles make you angry.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:14 AM on August 7, 2010


Can't it be both?
posted by yerfatma at 2:18 PM on August 7, 2010


sadly, i fear snuffleupagus and yerfatma will never be able to see eye to eye on this issue.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:48 PM on August 7, 2010


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