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  1. #1
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    What to do with a found bicycle?

    So I read the other "found bicycle ethics" questions posted here, but I'm still not sure what to do in my situation. Here it goes...

    I found a pretty nice commuter bike in my alley. This bike is probably a couple years old, has fenders and a rack added to it, and a lock locked to the rack. (I think this is an important wrinkle. The lock is locked to the rack but not to a wheel - like that's how the previous owner stored their lock when not in use.) The bike was sitting out in plain sight, leaned against a lamp post. No one was around. So I wheeled the bike inside and posted a note on the lamp post asking the owner to call me. No one called me. I also posted a found bike post on Craigslist with no response. I searched the stolen bike registries with no results.

    I'm sure that bike is stolen. The scenario I envision is that someone had it stored in their garage or on their porch and didn't bother to lock it to anything. A thief took it as a temporary means of transportation and then left it sitting in the alley when they were done with it.

    Now then... It's a nice bike. Fully operational, good parts, ready to ride. I don't have use for it and I want to sell it. I don't feel I've done my due diligence in getting it back to it's owner yet, though. I figure I'll post another note about it on CL, but beyond that, I don't know what else to do. What do you think? Can I sell it? Should I sell it? I think selling it will necessitate cutting the lock off of the rack. Does that complicate things?

    Thanks in advance for your responses.

  2. #2
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    You took something that wasn't yours and now intend to profit from it. I would have a different view if your intent was to donate it to a local bike co-op or something. Your scenario has a whole lot of assumptions built into it--some of which may not be true.

  3. #3
    Senior Member rando's Avatar
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    You have no idea what the story of the bike is. either put it back where you found it or donate it to the local co-op or goodwill. you did all you could to try and find the owner, sounds like. or ask the cops what you should do.
    Last edited by rando; 04-10-08 at 05:22 PM.
    "Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world". ~Grant Petersen

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  4. #4
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    I would turn it in to the local constabulary. They'll keep it for a certain amount of time waiting for it to get claimed. If no one claims it, it's legally yours, if you want it.

  5. #5
    Senior Member dmac49's Avatar
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    Check with your local PD. AND get a name when you do.
    The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
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  6. #6
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    Just playing Devil's advocate here - If he turns it in to the police, why can they then make money off it it at an auction?

  7. #7
    W A N T E D Juggler2's Avatar
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    Let's see, you've rescued a stolen bike from a lonely alley. Now your contemplating selling it, and asking for our responses...

    You say you've posted on Craigslist , and searched the stolen bike registry's.

    It sounds to me like you have made the minimal effort possible. Quit BSing, and take the bike to the police. Otherwise your just a common thief.

    Thats my response.

  8. #8
    Immoderator KrisPistofferson's Avatar
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    WTF is up with all this harshness for the OP, and all the naive crap about how the cops are magic and won't just turn around and auction that bike off? Christ, this sort of **** happens, people, doesn't mean the OP is a thief or needs some sort of karmic penance apart from keeping this bike and being prepared to part from it if he gets a call. If the original owner really wanted to find it it seems like he would have by now, anyway.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bikeforums
    Your rights end where another poster's feelings begin.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Brian C.'s Avatar
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  10. #10
    Conservative Hippie
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrisPistofferson View Post
    WTF is up with all this harshness for the OP, and all the naive crap about how the cops are magic and won't just turn around and auction that bike off? Christ, this sort of **** happens, people, doesn't mean the OP is a thief or needs some sort of karmic penance apart from keeping this bike and being prepared to part from it if he gets a call. If the original owner really wanted to find it it seems like he would have by now, anyway.
    I agree that the harshness is unnecessary.

    Now lets suppose Sam decides to keep said bike. In a week, or a month, or a year, said bike is identified to the local PD as stolen and in Sam's possession. Now Sam is in possession of stolen property and his future is up to the responding cop and the prosecutor. Now let's say both of them are having a bad hair day...

    Doesn't sound like a situation I'd like to put myself in.

  11. #11
    Immoderator KrisPistofferson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterRun View Post
    I agree that the harshness is unnecessary.

    Now lets suppose Sam decides to keep said bike. In a week, or a month, or a year, said bike is identified to the local PD as stolen and in Sam's possession. Now Sam is in possession of stolen property and his future is up to the responding cop and the prosecutor. Now let's say both of them are having a bad hair day...

    Doesn't sound like a situation I'd like to put myself in.
    I've been a cyclist and frequented these forums for many years now, and I can honestly say I remember exactly zero cases of cops doing jack squat about stolen bicycles. Sort of like when motorists run down cyclists, only even less. The OP should be more worried about being devoured by locusts.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bikeforums
    Your rights end where another poster's feelings begin.

  12. #12
    tinydr
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    Seeing you've already said you think it was stolen, turning it in to the police would be the appropriate thing to do.

  13. #13
    W A N T E D Juggler2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrisPistofferson View Post
    WTF is up with all this harshness for the OP, If your referring to my post, I wasn't "harsh" at all. Since I'm not PC, I call it like I see it. Besides, he asked for our responses. If he can't handle it, he shouldn't ask.and all the naive crap about how the cops are magicWho said anything like that? What are you smokin'? and won't just turn around and auction that bike off? That's what they are supposed to do with unclaimed, stolen property. Christ, this sort of **** happens, Try to respond without cursing, it will add credibility to your response. people, doesn't mean the OP is a thief Actually, it does.or needs some sort of karmic penance No one suggested this. If he can live with it, that's his business.apart from keeping this bike and being prepared to part from it if he gets a call. Yes, he did make a Herculean effort, didn't he?If the original owner really wanted to find it it seems like he would have by now, anyway.Lame beyond belief.
    Have a nice day!

  14. #14
    W A N T E D Juggler2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrisPistofferson View Post
    I've been a cyclist and frequented these forums for many years now, and I can honestly say I remember exactly zero cases of cops doing jack squat about stolen bicycles. Sort of like when motorists run down cyclists, only even less. The OP should be more worried about being devoured by locusts.
    So that's what makes "rescuing" a bike from an alley ok! I was wondering.

  15. #15
    Immoderator KrisPistofferson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juggler2 View Post
    Have a nice day!
    Grow up, kid.

    Apparently it is perfectly okay to act stupid on the internet, but completely unheard of for someone to point it out. You should get used to it, expect it, and not get so butt-hurt by it.

    And learn how to edit your replies properly.

  16. #16
    Immoderator KrisPistofferson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juggler2 View Post
    So that's what makes "rescuing" a bike from an alley ok! I was wondering.
    You're completely ignoring what the OP has done to find the owner, for the sake of demonizing him and being a forum drama-queen. Good luck with that.


  17. #17
    W A N T E D Juggler2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrisPistofferson View Post
    Grow up, kid.

    Apparently it is perfectly okay to act stupid on the internet, but completely unheard of for someone to point it out. You should get used to it, expect it, and not get so butt-hurt by it.

    And learn how to edit your replies properly.
    I can only wish it was I who had brought up locusts.

  18. #18
    Non-Custom Member zeytoun's Avatar
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    (clue: username includes a pun of "pissed off)
    I am a mutated sig Virus. Please put me in your sig so that I can continue to replicate and mutate, blah!.

  19. #19
    W A N T E D Juggler2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrisPistofferson View Post
    You're completely ignoring what the OP has done to find the owner, for the sake of demonizing him and being a forum drama-queen. Good luck with that.

    I haven't "demonized" anyone. And I did say he had made a Herculean effort to find the owner didn't I?


  20. #20
    An Army of Fred harleyfrog's Avatar
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    If it were me, I would take it to the local PD, leave my name and number and just walk away. The possibility that it may be stolen property is reason enough to turn it in. If is stolen and you keep it, you're in possession of a stolen item. If you sell it, then you're guilty of selling a stolen item. By turning it into the police, you've absolved yourself of possession, turned over potentially stolen item (which may or may not find its original owner) and saved your karma rating.

    Of course, that's just me.
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  21. #21
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrisPistofferson View Post
    I've been a cyclist and frequented these forums for many years now, and I can honestly say I remember exactly zero cases of cops doing jack squat about stolen bicycles. Sort of like when motorists run down cyclists, only even less. The OP should be more worried about being devoured by locusts.
    Related true story:
    Several years ago I bought a used bicycle at a thrift store for my daughter to use at the University of Iowa. Several months later the Iowa City police confiscated it based on a report from someone that it was their bike and had been stolen. I went to the police station with my bill of sale and the other party could not provide any proof of previous ownership. The police handed the bike back to my daughter.

  22. #22
    Avoid trauma Lake_Tom's Avatar
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    I know: lock it to the lamppost with a hardened steel chain and a weatherproof lock. Put a note on it that says you'll give it up with proof of ownership as described in this thread or other credible evidence.
    I smell the spring in the smoky wind.

  23. #23
    tinydr
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    that's dependent on the owner passing the bike... not a very effective means of finding someone. At least the police will know whether a stolen bicycle report was filed (hopefully).

  24. #24
    Immoderator KrisPistofferson's Avatar
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    Even better:
    The OP should go ahead and turn himself over to the authorities for ever being so conniving and selfish as to ask fellow cyclists about what the right thing to do with a found stolen bike is. What a vile person.

    Anyway, talking to the police sounds like a good idea, but just giving it to them? Uh, no.

  25. #25
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    I agree, he seems to have done everything that can reasonably be expected. Can not expect him to hire a detective. Advertisements are a time honored way of seeking the rightfull owner of found property, searching the stolen registries was another good thing to do. Only other thing I can say to do is put an ad in the local paper's lost and found section. That way you have physical proof that you attempted to find the owner.

    Frankly the police can be a total dead end, quite often they'll respond with a 'nope, nothing like that's been turned in' while they're hanging their hat on the handlebars.

    If someone does show up asking about it, have them unlock the lock in case of a combination have them tell you what it is over the phone. seriel numbers are not always good to go with, I don't know the numbers on my bikes, and to be honest the only one I -know- I have written down is my newest bike's because it's on the sales slip which is somewhere in the house, or maybe the garage, or at my moms ......

    ken.

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