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.