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  1. #1
    The Rabbi seely's Avatar
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    Ethical Dilemma...

    Everyday I ride to the local brewery (which coincidentally is almost everyday), I have to pass a beautiful orangish-pinish "Sansui" (or something like that) mixte that looks nearly new. It has been locked up to a water main for about 2-3 months now. In that time, someone has stomped both wheels and flipped in upside down. The area is a homeless hangout so I asked some of the less crazy ones about it and two of them said the owner went to jail and left the bike. Is it ethical to liberate this bike? Its getting destroyed just sitting there and is in such nice shape and such a cool colour...?
    commuter turned bike mechanic turned commuter (also a Velocity USA employee, but this is my personal account)

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    Liberate it, or steal it while the owner is in jail?

  3. #3
    Last one to the top... Little Darwin's Avatar
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    I wouldn't touch it.

    First, the person that owns it has left it because they can't get to it. It should be there for them when they can.

    Second, the person is in jail... do you really want to take a chance on them coming to recover their bike from you? Or whoever you sell it to if you flip it?

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    No.
    You can't assume something that's locked up is abandoned.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    So if you go "on vacation", it's OK to take your stuff?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
    So if you go "on vacation", it's OK to take your stuff?
    Only if the vacation is in the county lockup

  7. #7
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    Guess you could report an abandoned bike to the police and then make sure to show up at the auction later.

  8. #8
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    This same topic has come up dozens of times before. It may well be abandoned, but don't get caught taking it. I'm sure the cops have heard the "but I thought it was abandoned" story millions of times, not just with bikes. Is the bike worth a bunch of legal trouble?

  9. #9
    5' 19" barndoor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
    Guess you could report an abandoned bike to the police and then make sure to show up at the auction later.

    +1

    Don't take it. It's locked up. So what if it's sitting there for 10 years....it's not yours. Plain and simple.....your life won't be any better if you take it but your conscience will be clear if you don't....

    Now , if the cops remove it.....definitely find out if it goes up for auction and pick it up that way.
    I own my dream bike, a 2006 R-14 66cm Waterford road bike

  10. #10
    The Rabbi seely's Avatar
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    Yeah I was thinking of reporting it... its a shame to see it rot becuase its such a pretty bike. The rear end looks pretty much trashed now.
    commuter turned bike mechanic turned commuter (also a Velocity USA employee, but this is my personal account)

  11. #11
    Title-Les
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    KEEP YOUR DAMN HANDS OFF MY BIKE!

    I locked it there and I intend for it to be there till I decide to unlock it and do something else with it. It is mine to do with as I choose and for now, I choose to have it weathering where it is. I don't go lusting after any of your property, so don't you go lusting after my property.

    No matter how long I choose to keep it there it is not your's to worry about.
    alf

  12. #12
    Sometimes knows stuff. rmfnla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by old_alfie View Post
    KEEP YOUR DAMN HANDS OFF MY BIKE!

    I locked it there and I intend for it to be there till I decide to unlock it and do something else with it. It is mine to do with as I choose and for now, I choose to have it weathering where it is. I don't go lusting after any of your property, so don't you go lusting after my property.

    No matter how long I choose to keep it there it is not your's to worry about.
    alf
    Wow, did you ride it all the way to Michigan?
    Today, I believe my jurisdiction ends here...

  13. #13
    Senior Member Bearonabike's Avatar
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    Want to be really nice? Contact the cops, tell them what you know and see if you can find the owner. Offer to buy.
    Cycling - It isn't about the bike, its about the ride.

  14. #14
    Senior Member bigwoo's Avatar
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    Keep hitting your local thrift store. It will be a lot more fun and you'll feel a lot better about yourself and your new bike. There's "Good Bike Karma" and then there's "Bad Bike Karma" which is headed your way if you "liberate" it
    "Mommy's all right, Daddy's all right, They just seem a little weird"

    BICYCLE- The simplest and noblest machine:And they're all fun to ride, really

  15. #15
    Stop reading my posts! unworthy1's Avatar
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    hang on...you're "The Rabbi" and you're asking US to decide an ethical question?
    *.....

  16. #16
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    I like the idea of contacting the cops and seeing if you can locate the owner.

    You can investigate more with the local homeless folk and maybe get a name. Then this big adventure could ensue which involves you visiting the guy in jail in an orange jumper, maybe a glass divider between the two of you, all that good movie scene stuff. You could be his only visitor after all. Milk it like you have something really important to say as his one visitor you've been trying to track down for so long, and your his only contact with the outside world, then say

    "Soooo yeah...your bike is pretty cool. Can I have it?"

  17. #17
    The Rabbi seely's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unworthy1 View Post
    hang on...you're "The Rabbi" and you're asking US to decide an ethical question?
    *.....
    Sorry, its an ironic title.
    commuter turned bike mechanic turned commuter (also a Velocity USA employee, but this is my personal account)

  18. #18
    Disraeli Gears Charles Wahl's Avatar
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    Whenever I see a story like this, I'm always surprised at the vehement moral outrage stemming from seeing things only from the property owner perspective -- which is, I think, a typical American-capitalist response. It makes me think about that childhood story "Black Beauty." Why not see the story the way the horse/bike does? Don't bikes have moral rights too? Through no fault of its own, the bike has been abandoned and stomped.

    The most sensible and safest thing to do is to approach things through the local constabulatory -- there are property laws that govern what's "abandoned" and who has rights to it. But the legal machinery moves slowly, and that doesn't bode well for the bike. Though you may not wish to get involved, there's also the "contact the (possibly) jailed owner" path too -- certainly some risk there.

    Or, you could simply "liberate" it (there, I've said it), and take another risk by letting the homeless community know you're going to care for the thing, and if the original owner wants it back, come see you. Not the popular solution, obviously, but you'd have my support.

    Finally, you can ask yourself: what would Christ/Buddha/Mohammed/Solomon (in alphabetical order only) do? Answers to this, like all religious truths that aren't just dogma, are personal.

    BikeForum philosophical question (veering away from ethical): is a UJB mixte frame worth it?
    Last edited by Charles Wahl; 12-01-07 at 08:19 AM.

  19. #19
    Senior Member miamijim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bearonabike View Post
    Want to be really nice? Contact the cops, tell them what you know and see if you can find the owner. Offer to buy.
    Ask some of the 'locals' if they know the owners name. Look him up in the 'clink' and pay him a visit. If you find him dont be suprised if he signs it over for a carton of sigs.....or a file.
    WWW.CYCLESPEUGEOT.COM 2005 Pinarello Dogma; 1991 Paramount PDG 70 Mtb; 1976? AD Vent Noir; 1989 LeMond Maillot Juane F&F; 1993? Basso GAP F&F; 1989 Terry Symmetry; 2003 Trek 4700 Mtb; 1983 Vitus 979

  20. #20
    WNG
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    OK. Reality check here. You're bent outta shape over a stomped and abandoned, rusting UJB belonging to a convict....
    Thinking about stealing it. Because that's what you're doing actually. You are no more liberating it than we and the Brits liberated the natives in Africa from their lifestyle and placed them into slavery.
    If you do steal it, it will be under the watchful eyes of the homeless and who knows how many others.

    I think there are more better things to be spending your time on, than to visit a guy in jail. Attend an auction if the cops take the bike and it doesn't first disappear. Move on, there are more bikes in the world awaiting us, with less baggage.
    This is not a pet, a living thing being abused which requires our intervention...rescue.

  21. #21
    Senior Member yellowjeep's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Wahl View Post


    Finally, you can ask yourself: what would Christ/Buddha/Mohammed/Solomon (in alphabetical order only) do?
    You know a different alphabet than I.
    When in doubt, style it out.

    How to post full size pictures

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by fritz1255 View Post
    This same topic has come up dozens of times before. It may well be abandoned, but don't get caught taking it. I'm sure the cops have heard the "but I thought it was abandoned" story millions of times, not just with bikes. Is the bike worth a bunch of legal trouble?
    Liberate it....don't get caught.
    Everyone's happy....

  23. #23
    iab
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    Senior Member iab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WNG View Post
    OK. Reality check here. You're bent outta shape over a stomped and abandoned, rusting UJB belonging to a convict....
    Thinking about stealing it. Because that's what you're doing actually. You are no more liberating it than we and the Brits liberated the natives in Africa from their lifestyle and placed them into slavery.
    If you do steal it, it will be under the watchful eyes of the homeless and who knows how many others.

    I think there are more better things to be spending your time on, than to visit a guy in jail. Attend an auction if the cops take the bike and it doesn't first disappear. Move on, there are more bikes in the world awaiting us, with less baggage.
    This is not a pet, a living thing being abused which requires our intervention...rescue.
    I picked your quote because it was the last but I have a question for all those who see this as stealing.

    Does that mean if I abandon any garbage on the street and put a lock on it, is it no longer garbage? If I lock a mattress to a street sign, nobody can touch it? If I fire bomb my car and leave the burned out hulk in the street WITHOUT the keys, I have the right to keep it there in perpetuity?

    I'd go to the cops and report an eyesore and a potential hazard to the community (I could trip over it and sue the city). Then I would ask the details, timing, possession, etc. The original owner, IMO, has absolutely no rights for abandoning garbage.

  24. #24
    If I own it, I ride it CV-6's Avatar
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    I think it comes down to this. If you have to ask someone if it is "ethically" okay to do it, then it probably is not "ethically" okay to do it. You already know the answer, you are just looking for justification.
    Lynn Travers

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    I have a hard time believing that the City of Grand Rapids allows a bike to be locked to a water main for any length of time. It's not the most liberal town in MI.

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