A Portland man recently found his stolen bike for sale on Craigslist, came all the way to Seattle last Saturday to confront the seller, and recorded the entire sting operation on video. As an action-documentary film, this has it all: smart detective work, a thrilling chase, police cars and tow-truck redemption. As instruction on how to trace stolen property, this video is instructive. As a work of cinema, it’s great.
Does “Simon Jackson” get his bike back? Watch the 9-minute video to find out (rated R for language):
Via Seattle Bike Blog. More what-to-do-if-your-bike-is-stolen tips from Mr. Simon after the jump:
Most important: Assume that your bike WILL be stolen. It’s really just a matter of time, and this attitude can help you delay the inevitable. “An ounce of prevention…” Try not to lock it up publically (Not always possible, I know). Always use a U-Bolt lock. These are not infallible. I was using one. Kryptonite locks will even warranty against bike theft. Look into your home/renters insurance and check for coverage of bicycle theft….
- Keep the receipt, bill-of-sale (get one), and serial number of your bike on file. Never lose this.
- Take pictures of your bike’s parts, and keep these. Keep receipts for new parts.
- Call non-emergency police at 503-823-3333 (for Portland) ASAP. File a police report. give them the Serial number. If you don’t do this, then its just he-said/she-said, and you will not get your bike back (through the police)
- Pawn-shops and bike stores are required by law to hold the bike for 30days before selling it. They are also required to check with police on the S/N before selling a bike
- Check craigslist daily. Check for the bike’s parts, too (remember those pics you took?)
- Check other city’s craigslists, too. Mine was in Seattle, and I only got it back because I checked that.
- Police don’t care about bike theft (just my opinion). Mine was $2500, which is a felony. It literally took them 45 minutes to show up to a felony crime, and they only showed up AFTER I had confronted the guy. It’s a small problem compared to other stuff they deal with….
- If you’re lucky and locate your bike, you have two choices: call police and hope they set up a sting -OR- Do it yourself, and call 911 when you get there. I did the latter because the officer on the non-emergency line said that “The police may not show up if they get another more-important call.” (direct quote)…
- As far as setting up the sting, do it at a public place. NOT their house. A busy parking lot is very good. Do anything you can not to sound frantic. Don’t email too much. Don’t call too much. Lie your ass off – Your bike depends on it! Let them think you know nothing about bikes so that they under-estimate you…. you’re just a casual buyer, not a victim.
- As far as the sting goes: Call 911 before approaching them. Tell them anything you can to get them there fast. I didn’t and the ones in my case had a really shitty sense of urgency. Bring a plural number of friends. Take video evidence. Be direct. Act tough. Look puffed up, and intimidating. Don’t break the law, either… but do defend yourself and your property. Your safety is more important than the bike. The bike is more important then the arrest. The arrest is just revenge!
- If the guy gets arrested, then press charges.
- Remember that video you took? That is now evidence against the thief, and it’s a great way to spread the word about this over-looked problem. Make an ass out of the guy in public. Humiliate them. I will soon put up a blog post with this guys address, phone numbers, fb page, mugshots, license plates. His girlfriend was actively involved, too. I am publishing all information about her as well… There are consequences for being a turd.
- Finally, think about all of these things when you’re buying a used bike. Thieves are tricky. Some are smart. Use your brain. Never buy bikes that you think may be stolen.