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  1. #1
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    Confronted a Thief Who Stole a Light Off My Bike

    This story is only somewhat bike-related, so I decided to put it in the Foo sub-forum.

    In my office building, we don't have a dedicated space to store bikes but there's room in the parking garage in the basement. Last night I was sitting at my desk when one of my coworkers came by and asked if my bike was the green one locked up next to his downstairs. He was leaving for the night and was down there unlocking his bike and getting on a jacket for the ride home. He told me he saw one of the employees from the burrito shop next door bent over my bike, apparently twisting something or trying to pull the cable lock apart. The burrito shop doesn't have any parking spots in the garage, but they have a key to get in to access a storage closet in there. When the culprit noticed that someone was watching him, he stopped what he was doing walked over to the storage closet, got whatever he was sent down there to get, and left to go back to work.

    After I went down to make sure my bike wasn't broken, my coworker and I went to the burrito shop to talk to a manager. We told him that the last employee he sent down to the garage was messing with bikes and that we would be informing the building management on Monday morning. The manager was apologetic and said he would put away the key to the garage. While we were standing there, the culprit recognized my coworker, went to the part of the store farthest away from us, and keep peeking out to see if we had left yet.

    We made our point, so my coworker left to go home and I went back up to the office to finish what I was doing. A short time later I packed up to leave and went downstairs to get my bike. When I got on, I reached back to turn on my rear light and noticed that it was gone. That's what the guy was twisting and pulling: My rear light was attached to the seatpost with two plastic zip ties. I was annoyed before, but now I was angry because something had been stolen.

    So I went back to the shop again and talked to the same manager. I told him that whoever was down in the garage had stolen my light and I just wanted it back. He went in the back to talk to the culprit, then came back and said the guy didn't know anything about a light. He was just looking for a place to park his bike. This is an obvious lie because employees don't usually have access to the garage unless they get the key from the manager for the specific purpose of getting into the storage closet. I told the manager that the culprit was seen crouched in front of my bike pulling on something, and that doesn't comprise looking for a place to park. He went in the back again, and this time he came back with the employee. Immediately he said he didn't know anything about a light and that he was just looking for somewhere to put his bike. I told him that I wanted my light back and that I would go back upstairs and call the police if I didn't get it. At this point the manager intervened. He didn't want the police in the shop interrupting his business, making him look bad, and perhaps getting him in trouble with his boss. He asked how much the light is worth, and I told him about $20. He pulled a $20 bill from his wallet and handed it to me.

    For a few seconds, I couldn't decide whether I should accept it. Taking the money would preclude me from involving the police. But I thought it through and decided that there were two likely outcomes: I could call the police and report the theft. They would talk to the employee, and he would deny stealing the light again. Since I didn't see the guy doing anything wrong, I don't think they could have done anything based on what I would have told them. My coworker was the one who spotted the guy in the act, but he had already left some time ago. The other possibility was that I could take the money and replace the light.

    Ultimately my goal was to have the light back, so that seemed like the better option. I took the $20, but I don't feel great about it. Maybe I have an unreasonable desire for ideal justice. The person who suffered was the manager when it should have been the employee. But I suppose he did his own mental calculation and decided that it was better to lose $20 than to lose business in the shop or maybe lose his job. Unfortunately, the actual thief didn't suffer at all.

  2. #2
    Pwnerer Wordbiker's Avatar
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    Can you buy a combination bike light/taser with the $20?
    Quote Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
    Ski, bike and wish I was gay.

  3. #3
    on by skijor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1nput0utput View Post
    ...Ultimately my goal was to have the light back, so that seemed like the better option. I took the $20, but I don't feel great about it. Maybe I have an unreasonable desire for ideal justice. The person who suffered was the manager when it should have been the employee. But I suppose he did his own mental calculation and decided that it was better to lose $20 than to lose business in the shop or maybe lose his job. Unfortunately, the actual thief didn't suffer at all.
    I wouldn't make that assumption. The employee may already be known to have questionable ethics. He may already be looking for new employment.

  4. #4
    Strong with the Fred Big_e's Avatar
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    You did good. If the manager wants to cover for his crooks of employees, then let him foot the bill for their behavior. I get the feeling the manager is gonna get his crook back one way or another. I know I'd straighten him out or fire him if he made me lose money or almost causes the police to come down on my little restaurant.
    Ernest
    "This is a world you will never understand...and you always fear what you don't understand."- Carmine Falcone

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by skijor View Post
    I wouldn't make that assumption. The employee may already be known to have questionable ethics. He may already be looking for new employment.
    This wouldn't surprise me at all.
    -------

    Some sort of pithy irrelevant one-liner should go here.

  6. #6
    Flowers for mom Siu Blue Wind's Avatar
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    I wouldn't worry about it. The manager was quick to present you with a solution that he felt was appropriate. If he didn't feel that it was justifiable then he would not have offered it. I bet he is going to have a good word with his employee afterwards.

    If you still feel awful about it, just remember that he gave the key to his employee and is responsible for any actions that is done while on the clock. If he didn't give him the key, then this would not have happened. He trusted the guy enough to hire him and if he hired a crook, then he should be accountable for it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Buddha
    We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.
    Quote Originally Posted by making View Post
    Please dont outsmart the censor. That is a very expensive censor and every time one of you guys outsmart it it makes someone at the home office feel bad. We dont wanna do that. So dont cleverly disguise bad words.

  7. #7
    K2ProFlex baby! ilikebikes's Avatar
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    My response would have been something along the lines of: "Does your bike have computer controlled suspension? Then shut your piehole, this baby is from the future!"
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    you should have handed the thief the 20 and said,"Here ya go, buy yourself a matching front light, just so you can know how it feels to get something without stealing it." and walked away.
    You see, their morals, their code...it's a bad joke, dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're only as good as the world allows them to be. I'll show you. When the chips are down, these...These "civilized" people...they'll eat each other. See, I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve

  8. #8
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    Your "secure" storage area is not very secure with low paid burrito employees even able to get keys whenever they want. I would opt to store your bike at your office area-in your cubicle. Next time you might not be so lucky.

  9. #9
    long time visiter Alfster's Avatar
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    Not how I would have handled it. I would have stuck to the ultimatum and not taken the $20. I refuse to let others pay for the misdeeds of another. You're just enabling the thief. This guy has to know there's a consequence to his actions. A charge of theft under $5000 would have been a good reminder. When push comes to shove, the thief would have caved and returned the light. These type of people are just weasles that are only out for their own best interests.

  10. #10
    Chepooka StupidlyBrave's Avatar
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    I would have taken the 20 bucks and a burrito

  11. #11
    on by skijor's Avatar
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    ^Why not $20 in burritos and a 20-pack of TP?

  12. #12
    Lost Again gitarzan's Avatar
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    I'd have said it was a $100 light.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jseis View Post
    Is a ukulele player in a mandolin town and banned from all bars by the chief of police unless he leaves his strings and gravy at the front door.

  13. #13
    Chepooka StupidlyBrave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skijor View Post
    ^Why not $20 in burritos and a 20-pack of TP?
    Mexican food fears that which is my gastrointestinal awesomeness.

  14. #14
    Senior Member GeorgePaul's Avatar
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    @OP: You did the right thing.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ilikebikes View Post
    you should have handed the thief the 20 and said,"Here ya go, buy yourself a matching front light, just so you can know how it feels to get something without stealing it." and walked away.
    That's clever, but I would still be without a light.

    Quote Originally Posted by folder fanatic View Post
    Your "secure" storage area is not very secure with low paid burrito employees even able to get keys whenever they want. I would opt to store your bike at your office area-in your cubicle. Next time you might not be so lucky.
    Unfortunately, office policy prohibits bikes in the office, which is why we have to keep them in the garage. It is accessible only with an RF key card, and the burrito shop has one because they need access to the storage closet. As far as I know, there has never been a vandalism or theft problem involving cars or bikes in the four years I've been working there until now. That's why we're going to bring it up with building management.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alfster View Post
    Not how I would have handled it. I would have stuck to the ultimatum and not taken the $20. I refuse to let others pay for the misdeeds of another. You're just enabling the thief. This guy has to know there's a consequence to his actions. A charge of theft under $5000 would have been a good reminder. When push comes to shove, the thief would have caved and returned the light. These type of people are just weasles that are only out for their own best interests.
    I agree with you in principle. But if I had called the police, it is unlikely that I would have gotten the light back. I couldn't identify the thief because I didn't see him in the garage. My coworker did, and he had already left. I think the thief probably tossed it in the trash when he recognized my coworker talking to the manager the first time I went in there. Otherwise, I think he would have fished it out of his pocket and given it back when I confronted him face-to-face. But maybe not. I guess there's no way to know. I had to make a quick decision on the spot, I weighed my options, and that's how it turned out.

  16. #16
    long time visiter Alfster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1nput0utput View Post
    I agree with you in principle. But if I had called the police, it is unlikely that I would have gotten the light back. I couldn't identify the thief because I didn't see him in the garage. My coworker did, and he had already left. I think the thief probably tossed it in the trash when he recognized my coworker talking to the manager the first time I went in there. Otherwise, I think he would have fished it out of his pocket and given it back when I confronted him face-to-face. But maybe not. I guess there's no way to know. I had to make a quick decision on the spot, I weighed my options, and that's how it turned out.
    Actually, rethinking my position, the owner was also at fault. He was the one who is ultimately responsible for his employee's actions when he gave the key to him. While I would have handled it differently, you still improved the chances of it not happening again by holding the owner accountable. He also needs to learn a lesson here. He'll be more careful next time he gives an employee access to the area. Hopefully he'll recount what happened to future employees.

    Now, hopefully there is such a thing as bad karma, and hopefully it falls squarely on the shoulders of the thief.

  17. #17
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    I would mention it to building management, preferably in an e-mail so that you have a record. Alternatively, mention it in person, and then follow up with an e-mail. The employee may well be seeking new employment at this point, I wouldn't say that he's off the hook.

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