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Old 10-11-11, 02:01 AM   #1
free sauce
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The Adventures of Craigslist -or- How I Put a Bike Thief in Jail

Friday evening, another evening browsing Craigslist. Not that I had any space in my budget for another bike, but it was a beater I was looking for. A crappy rigid 90s MTB, and I would be set, I thought. I found a listing for a cheap Nishiki MTB, no photo, and a phone number saying "text me for photo." Off went a text, a blurry picture was received in response.



I called the guy, Vince, in the early evening. He spoke unusually fast and told me he'd knock $10 off the $40 price if I could meet him in Hollywood RIGHT NOW. Not wanting to drive 40 miles for a $40 bike, I told him I'd rather meet in Long Beach. Perfect, he said, he will bring the bike to his girlfriend's house in Long Beach later that night. His speech was fast and he seemed to ramble on excessively. I'm no saint; I know how men on uppers talk. He called me again to update me on his transit progress - he was on the metro rail headed South with the bike, and by now it was 8-9 pm and dark. Knowing the meet would be late at night and with a strange, rambling speedfreak, I opted to take my gentle giant of a roommate with me.



10ish pm rolled around and Vince was finally here in downtown Long Beach, so off we drove to pick up the bike. We met a tattooed, shaved head, spun-out individual in the hallways of his girlfriend's apartment complex. He showed us the bike, and it was crap - beat, wrong size, ugly. Not wanting us to leave, Vince led us to the basement with a stable of other bikes for sale. Mixed in among a few other beaters was a shiny, nearly-new, stock 2008 Bianchi Pista, conveniently in my size. I had some idea, at this point, that this fellow wasn't your normal bicycle salesman. The bike had its crankbolt hanging loose, as if an ignoramus wanted to pull the crank but didn't have a puller. I lowballed him at $100, "cash right now, bro," knowing that he probably wanted cash/crack/meth/whatever more than he wanted a track bike. He tried to tell me they went for $800 online, but I held firm. I think he gave it up for $110 or so; I don't remember. My roommate could barely contain his excitement, and for that matter, barely could I. We both take pride in finding sick CL deals, though they're usually more legit than this one.



On the way out with my new fixiewhip, my suspicions were further confirmed when he told me he could get more bikes from his 'messenger friends that give me stuff.' He asked me what I wanted to buy, and I truthfully told him I'm in the market for a cyclocross bike, which was true, since I still didn't have a stupid beater rigid MTB (and still don't.)

Sunday morning, I get a call. "Yo dawg, I got this bike, it's called Soma Double Cross!! Come look at it!" Whatever, I thought. I rolled on over, gave it a look on his hallway balcony. He changed the wheels and tried to sell me a geared bike with a set of beat up fixed wheels for $150. The bike was tiny, 48-50cm at the most. He showed me a wheelset for sale, and it obviously went with the Double Cross bike, but he denied it and wanted to sell them separately. I snapped a picture of the CX bike he set on the balcony while he went inside to grab the wheelset he wanted to show me. I declined all of his sales pitches, not wanting another shady bike, especially one that wasn't my size and was obviously a custom build.

I hopped on Craigslist as soon as I got home. The latest post was listed at the top: STOLEN SOMA DOUBLE CROSS $500 REWARD. Oh ****, *click*. The guy described the bike to a tee - Tiagra groupset, check, Ritchey fork, check, small girlfriend's bike, yep, 105 RD, orange bar tape, yep and yep, that's it. The bike was built so recently, the post said, there were no pictures of it. Dude also posted a stolen bike report on BikeForums. So I sent off an email attached with a copy of the photo I had of the bike and a request for a phone number to call. A reply came in a few minutes later with a phone number, "PLEASE CALL!"

I called and chatted for a bit. Described what I had saw that morning and the story up to that point. He told me to call up Vince and try to get that bike, and I would be reimbursed for purchase price + $500 reward. The owner really wanted that bike, I thought. So I texted Vince to try to set up a buy, but he never texted me back. I had given the owner Vince's name, address, and physical description. i told him to get at the cops and see what they could do. I figured I might as well put some effort into this to warrant collecting a reward, so I decided to cruise over to Vince's to see if I could catch him and get that bike.

As I rolled past his apartment complex, the flash of police lights caught my eye. There was the bike, orange handlebars and all, upside down on the pavement next to a cop car. Looks like the law caught up with him. I got the story from the bike owner - apparently the police couldn't really do anything with what was in the apartment, but as they cruised by they spotted Vince trying to load the bike into a car on the street - what timing! They picked him up on theft as well as an outstanding warrant (riding the metro without paying the fair, failure to appear for his ticket I guess?) and snagged the bike as evidence.



The owner and his girlfriend drove down a few days later to pick up the bike from the police. I met up with them while they were at lunch. I don't remember his name, but he was a very nice fellow. His girlfriend went to a movie and locked up the bike with a cable lock - oops! He graciously hooked up the reward money; I told him to buy a U-Lock, duh. I don't think the poor fellow ever got his wheels back, though he did get those beater fixed wheels.

I tried to find the original owner to the Pista I had, but never found a thing about a missing stock Pista in LA.

Vince sat in jail for about 2 weeks; I tracked him on LA Sheriff's Inmate Information after I e-stalked him a bit to figure out his real and full name. On the day of his court date and release, my phone beeped: "Why are you such a ***** snitch." I guess he figured it out. I changed my number.

So thanks to Vince for the entertainment and the original owner (forgot your name!) for the motivating reward. Sorry to the dude who's Pista I rode for a few years and sold; maybe you should have posted on craigslist/lafixed/bikeforums/stolenbikeregistry/internet.
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Old 10-11-11, 09:10 AM   #2
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I think you said you turned down the reward, and told him to get a U-lock. If so, Right On!

At most, I would have asked him to pick up the dinner/drink tab, and call it even.
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Old 10-11-11, 12:48 PM   #3
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... I think he gave it up for $110 or so; I don't remember. My roommate could barely contain his excitement, and for that matter, barely could I. We both take pride in finding sick CL deals, though they're usually more legit than this one...
So, on this first bike which you seem to believe it was stolen, you were fine purchasing stolen property since you got a "sick CL deal", but on the second bike (where it wasn't the right size for you) you finally decided to turn the thief in? Seems like you exhibited a wonderful moral superiority to the bike thief...
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Old 10-11-11, 12:50 PM   #4
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So, lets get this straight. You knew something was up, but went ahead and bought what you know what a stolen bike from a meth head? You then proceeded to almost buy another stolen bike when you just happened across the "stolen notice" for the bike you almost bought..and basically asked the guy to steal for you? Before you deny that, you HAD to know what was up, you all but said it yourself that he was stealing to cover his habit for w/e. So you entice this guy to go out a steal a bike on the off chance it would be what you were actually looking for at a fraction of it's actual value (and including the previous purchase as well), THEN you turn around and snitch the guy out to the police.
Did you mention to those same police that you had purchased another bike from him prior to this deal, a deal which was motivated by the enticement of reward monies to you?
Did you think to cancel the first deal and call the police when you had a good idea that the items were stolen, and BEFORE there was any manner of reward in it for you (aside from doing the right thing, of course).

You are as big a dirtbag as the guy that stole the bikes in the first place in my opinion. You should NEVER have kept that bike, you knowingly recieved stolen goods and should have been in jail next to the guy. Real freaking hero you are.

Last edited by punkncat; 10-11-11 at 01:05 PM.
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Old 10-11-11, 12:57 PM   #5
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The p'cat has you pegged.
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Old 10-11-11, 01:03 PM   #6
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I don't think I'd have bought any bike off that guy and reported him ASAP to the Police. I would have turned down the reward $$ too. While I don't believe in "Karma" I do believe you need to do what's right.

Or in other words: "I'm not sure I'da said that".

Last edited by bigbadwullf; 10-11-11 at 03:32 PM.
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Old 10-11-11, 08:03 PM   #7
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I want to give OP the benefit of the doubt.He wasn't 100% sure the first bike was stolen - yes he was suspicious but he did not have any proof until he saw the 2nd bike listed as "stolen" on craigslist. At that time, he notified the person who reported the bike missing and put himself in danger by disclosing everything he knew about Vince. He ended up having to change his number because of this. He didn't take the reward that was offered to him (or did he?) and he did make an effort to search for the owner of the bike he bought. While his actions may seem questionable to some, he did manage to get the guy his bike back and put a thief in jail.

edit: after re-evaluating and learning he took the reward, I changed my mind. This guy is scum.

Last edited by Jyyanks; 10-13-11 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 10-12-11, 04:44 AM   #8
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He graciously hooked up the reward money;.

So thanks to Vince for the entertainment and the original owner (forgot your name!) for the motivating reward. .
Looks to me like he took it.
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Old 10-12-11, 07:54 AM   #9
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Looks to me like he took it.
And the poor owner didn't even get his wheels back ?
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Old 10-12-11, 03:19 PM   #10
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The posters story does not add up. Especially since they claim this happened in 2009... It took me all of five minutes to track down the craigslist seller you claim was the thief and determine that he still has that Nishiki bike for sale. Which means you are probably just claiming it happened in the past to cloak the fact that you have that stolen track bike in your possession right now. I took the liberty of informing Vince that he can use Intellius to get your info regardless of whether you changed the number that way he can report you to the police as well since you are partners in crime after all. You are only interested in reporting crime when it is not directly profitable to yourself. If you do still have that track bike I recommend you get rid of it pronto wise guy.
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Old 10-12-11, 04:28 PM   #11
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The latest post was listed at the top: STOLEN SOMA DOUBLE CROSS $500 REWARD. Oh ****, *click*.

I figured I might as well put some effort into this to warrant collecting a reward, so I decided to cruise over to Vince's

So thanks to Vince for the entertainment and the original owner (forgot your name!) for the motivating reward.
All that shows is the poster wouldn't have put in the effort to get the thief but not for the $500 reward. There's no reason to think he declined the reward, since that was the motive. One thing I tend to agree with the poster: the victim sounds like a nice guy, having fulfilled his promise of this big reward.
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Old 10-12-11, 08:04 PM   #12
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Ok - I didn't realize he took the reward - that is scummy. Forget the benefit of the doubt.
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Old 10-12-11, 09:38 PM   #13
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Lets see, Tweeker, room full of bikes & parts? I would've said i'll be right back with the cash, I left it in the car, just wanted to be sure you were legit BRO! called the cops while I was in my car, given a description of me & the tweeker, & would have sat down with the tweeker & played lets make a deal until the cops got there.
I have had over $100K in music gear stolen from me, & like I said on another post, Islam has it's merits, cuz if I ever find the son of a !@#$ that stole my gear I will personally cut his hands off
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Old 10-13-11, 07:42 AM   #14
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Agreed about the one merit of Islam. Thieves should be dealt with in the harshest manner possible. And that includes those that steal money "legally", via taxes.
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Old 10-13-11, 08:54 AM   #15
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The Islamic code for treatment of thieves predates the religion by about a millenia or so... Like many other things mahommed simply co opted existing beliefs...
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Old 10-13-11, 10:48 AM   #16
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OP's OP didnt even add up:

"Friday evening, another evening browsing Craigslist."

"Sorry to the dude who's Pista I rode for a few years and sold; maybe you should have posted on craigslist/lafixed/bikeforums/stolenbikeregistry/internet."

Agree with all that said you should have walked away as soon as it seemed fishy and reported to police. Especially agree that you should have declined the reward. At best, let the gracious owner of the stolen bike buy you a beer and move on.
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Old 10-13-11, 04:57 PM   #17
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I tried to find the original owner to the Pista I had, but never found a thing about a missing stock Pista in LA.

Sorry to the dude who's Pista I rode for a few years and sold; maybe you should have posted on craigslist/lafixed/bikeforums/stolenbikeregistry/internet.
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Story's from early 2009 but just now got around to posting it up. I'm slow
(2nd quote is from the OP's other post here)

I was puzzled why he waited until now to post this story about early 2009. Reading the above It seems possible that he wanted to wait until after he has sold the bike he got from Vince. In other words, he didn't want to return the bike to the original owner who may recognize it from the pictures, as long as he's still enjoying riding it.

Last edited by vol; 10-13-11 at 10:10 PM.
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Old 10-21-11, 03:29 PM   #18
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I agree with Sgt Mac, I read somewhere that thefts that are carried out in islamic countries are less than a third of thefts carried out in the US. Seriously if we have the death penalty then I don't see why we shouldn't bring in chopping thieves hands off.
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Old 10-21-11, 06:28 PM   #19
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You were riding a stolen bike. In my city. The same city I had a nice Supercourse stolen from. Thanks for supporting the scumbag stolen bike industry, but munch!
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