I'm pretty sure I talked with a couple of bike theives today, but I wasn't quick/clever/assertive/suspicious enough to call police. What would you have done?
So, as I was leaving my LBS today, the customers who'd been served before me were lingering outside having a smoke. They were pretty rough looking guys; weathered faces, grubby clothes. They noticed the clipless pedals on my road bike (eye-catching red Speedplays) and asked my how I liked them.
Me: "They're pretty high-maintenance, but blah blah blah"... (noticing that the men both have Giant mountain bikes with disc brakes, suspension and clipless pedals). "I wouldn't want to use them off-road though" (thinking the guys might be thinking of putting Speedplay on their bikes because it has dual-sided entry).
Guy: "Oh yeah, I'm going to replace these things (Eggbeaters) with real pedals first chance I get, I don't know how you can pedal with your foot stuck to the bike."
That's when the penny dropped for me, that these guys didn't exactly match their bikes. I mean, you can look grubby (I often do), but why are you both riding around together on such very fine machines in the middle of a very cold weekday, not being enough of an enthusiast to appreciate clipless (or healthy lungs, for that matter).
They finished the smokes as I feigned that I'd forgotten something inside, and I went in and asked the mechanic if he also thought they were suspicious. He hadn't really noticed, but he said both bikes are planning to be up on his stand soon, so he'll check the serial numbers with police then.
When I got back outside, the guys were gone. In hindsight, I'm wondering what else I could have done? I didn't have a phone on me to call police and report a suspicious person. Can you even do that? Would police take it seriously? What would you have done? I feel bad, because I'm pretty sure those were stolen bikes. Hopefully their original owners recorded the serial numbers and gave them to police when the bikes disappeared. And hopefully my friend at the shop sees those bikes soon and calls in the numbers.