Monday, February 12, 2007

Of dealings with a bicycle crook

On Sunday morning just after Swan cut up on 14th St to head home while I continued on R St. a guy came flying around the corner of 14th and R asking me if I knew anything about bikes and to stop and talk to him for a minute. He was riding a sweet Bianchi Pista, probably somewhere around a 54 or 56 with a nice looking gray paint job similar to the one in the picture below. It had some stickers and identifying markings on it but I didn’t get a good look at them.
The guy told me he had just picked the bike up for $100 and asked me if I thought he could get any money for it and just like that the red flag went up in my head. As my mind ran through what I should be doing a stronger urge to just get out of the situation took over. I told the guy it was a really nice bike and nodded when he asked if he could get over $100 for it. He asked if I knew anyone looking to buy a bike and I told him no and he said that he lived across the street and would be trying to sell it.

I took off and quickly started regretting my handling of the situation as I thought about a few recent postings on Craigslist I’d read about a green Pista that was stolen. I started to think about what I should have done in the situation but the best thing I could come up with was to try and get the phone number of the guy and then post something on CL about it. Then I wondered if I could have gotten the guy to sell it too me for cheap, if I had just kept my mouth shut about it being a nice bike and then followed that with a post on CL to try and find the rightful owner like another guy did back in December.
Most of all though I just felt terrible for who ever it was that likely had it stolen from them and wished I could have done something. I knew I couldn’t outright accuse him of stealing it since I had no real evidence that it was stolen. I also didn’t think calling the cops would do any good both since they don’t actually care about that stuff in the first place and the previously mentioned lack of any solid evidence.

I guess I’ll just say here and post something on Craigslist about it anyway just in case; the location where he stopped me is pointed out here on Google maps and he said he lived right around there. Not sure what good that does other then give a little information but it’s the best I can do at this point.

Next I’d like to ask for some advice as to how I could have handled this situation. It’s not a situation I’ve ever been in before and don’t really plan on being in it again, but if I am I’d like to know what the best way to handle it would be. Anyone have any suggestions for me here?
Well, this afternoon while keeping my eye on Craigslist I saw this post about a Bianchi Pista recovered on 14th St NW. I'm guessing it was probably the same bike which makes me feel a little bit better about the situation; hopefully the owner finds out about it and gets the bike back. My first skim through the post I thought the bike had been stolen from the original thief by the poster but rereading the thief actually took off down the road after handing the bike over.

While this is probably about the best possible outcome for this situation it's also probably one of the least likely. I guess if there is a moral here it is to not be afraid to confront someone if it is obvious (or more don't steal a bike if you're going to be scared to be seen with it). But, on the other hand there is way too much room for error here and the chances of wrongfully accusing someone are pretty high and that is certainly not something I would be interested in doing.

The question still remains; what is the best way to go about this situation? What do you do if you think the bike you're being offered/asked about is stolen. The police offer a very poor option as I know through my own experience. Any thoughts? Opinions? General feelings or experiences with things like this?

Even Newer:

Got an email tonight from a friend of a friend, though I recieved the email through Craigslist and completely unrelated to my friend. Turns out the bike belongs to a 17 year old that is a member of one of the local cycling teams. I really hope he gets his bike back.


kob said...

Nice post. What would this bike sell for typically?

KMAX said...

They go for somewhere between 5 and 6 hundred new from the dealer typically. I'm sure the guy could have gotten at least 3 or 4 hundred for it.

Freewheel said...

If there's a National Bike Registry sticker on it, you can call NBR at 1-800-848-BIKE and give them the make, model, color, etc (of course, if you can get it, the serial # is gold) and they will help track down the owner.

KMAX said...

The idea sounds great and I guess it would at least be doing something. But, I feel like the guy would've been able to get rid of it pretty quick even if he just unloaded it on a pawn shop.

I will hold on to that phone number though; and I guess I should really go ahead and register my bikes there huh?