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Old 03-14-14, 08:55 PM   #1
nans
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Just recovered my wife's stolen bike

So we woke up one morning to find that the stop sign my wife's bike was locked up to had been removed by unscrewing two bolts at the base of the sign. The bike was attached with a U lock so the thief just slipped it off the sign post and took off.

Of course i went cray looking for it all around town to the point my wife was trying to tell me to relax cause she could see that the whole situation making me go raving mad. After searching for hours I then gave it a rest.

Later that night I went on a walk to the store and saw the bike behind a ten foot fence and someone sitting on a chair right behind it. I just kept quiet and continued to walk on. This was two blocks from my house. This guy was a total idiot stealing a bike and having outside on the same day it was stolen. Since it was dark at night and it was behind this huge fence i decided not to try to climb it like an idiot while he went inside his place and got whatever weapon he could find. He was on his turf, right in front of his place, so i was at a total disadvantage.

I called the police out and told them i just had the bike stolen this morning and had given a description of the bike on the police report. I also told them about the adjustments that i made to the bike and the name of the non stock components I added to it. The cops didnt seem to care and just wanted me to give them the serial number to the bike which i never took the time to record with the police department. I told them for sure that it was my wife's bike and was describing it even more. The one cop said he doesn't care if i had my name and date of birth engraved on the bicycle and that if i never recorded the serial number with the police that there is nothing that proves that the bike is actually mine. He explained that I could be some guy that saw a bike on the street and took down all the details of the bike and was now trying to get the bike stolen from someone courtesy of the police. After screaming at the police a little more i just gave up and said my good bye.

A week then passed and as i was driving to a dentist appointment . I saw the bike locked up to bike stand in front of a major grocery store. My wife was with me and we decided to wait it out and after we would see him unlock the bike that I would rush in and scare the hell out of him with threats of calling the police and demand the bike back. My wife had a can of mace with her in her purse as well in case things got sour. We waited for a while and I decided to go out and get the serial number on the bike in case he would get away later on cause who knows what could happen . At least I can then go back to the police and tell them i found the serial number that I had wrote on a piece of paper and i finally found it -Total bullcrap but if i can add the serial number to the case I will have a better chance of getting it back on another day if I happen to see it two blocks from my house again.

We waited for a long time and then I told my wife to go home and get the other U lock I had for my bike and i will just wait to see if the guy comes out. He never came out so when my wife returned with the lock I locked up the bike with my lock and wrote a note on it that said " This is a stolen bike if you want the lock taken off call the police" I wrote my case number on there as well to make it seem more official. Again this is total bull**** but it would scare the hell out of them and they will back off the bike even though i really didn't have the serial number and had no official proof it was my bike.

We then went to a hardware store and bought a pair of the biggest bolt cutters. I told the store guy that my wife lost the key to her bike chain and we needed to cut it off. He gave us a demo as well on how to cut the chain. Which was kind of funny. We then went back to the bike and in broad daylight i took out the bolt cutters and snipped away at this chain. Some people came up to me and asked me what i was doing and i just explained that this was a stolen bike and i was taking it back. I handed them the note i had left as well with the case number on it. Realizing that anybody with a cell phone on the street can call the police I had to get out of there quick. It was right in front of a busy grocery store and there must have been like 15 people that saw me stealing this bike back. After cutting up the chain 4 times cause he had it double wrapped. I told my wife to ride it home quick and that was that we got her bike back. Miller time. It was a really satisfying

Its pretty messed up that i had to go though this situation and the police didn't step in the first time. If i did get arrested I don't think it would hold up in court due to all the testimony of friends, pictures i had of my wife on the bike and honest police report i had filed earlier with the color make and model of the bike. There's not too many bikes in town here that you can only order online and have it shipped out, along with velo orange handlebars that you have to order online as well and have shipped out with black vintage grips that are not in production anymore as well, but according to the police thats no proof at all and i how could i be so sure its really my wife's bike, someone could have the same bike shipped out with the same components and same crappy plastic handle grips
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Old 03-14-14, 09:16 PM   #2
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Well done
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Old 03-14-14, 09:23 PM   #3
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A good quick recovery! Nicely done you deserve a better beer than a Miller for that!
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Old 03-14-14, 09:53 PM   #4
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Well done!
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Old 03-14-14, 11:05 PM   #5
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so what lesson did you learn from this?

I hope it includes to never lock your bike to a stop sign. Just curious though, why did you lock your bike to a stop sign? Is it common for people to lock their bike, out in the public, like that overnight?
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Old 03-15-14, 07:52 AM   #6
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so what lesson did you learn from this?

I hope it includes to never lock your bike to a stop sign. Just curious though, why did you lock your bike to a stop sign? Is it common for people to lock their bike, out in the public, like that overnight?

Yes its not the most secure place to lock up a bike, but the alternative to locking it up to the sign is my wife bringing up the bike a flight of stairs which is kind of hard for her. Many people lock their bikes the same way. Theres a beach cruiser that gets locked up across the street from us every night as well, but I guess hers was picked out because its a nicer bike.

We are definitely not locking up our bikes to the street sign ever again. So we are going to have to figure something else out. Lesson was learned. Another lesson was how ineffective the police are in intervening when your bike is stolen which is kind of sad.

I would recommend if you see your stolen bike out in public, locked up somewhere try and get another lock and lock it up again and then try and steal it back. Its obviously pretty easy since I did it out in broad daylight with a pair of huge bolt
cutters. You can just tell people that its your bike and you lost the key or whatever. I think people are just looking for a reason not to get involved
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Old 03-15-14, 08:00 AM   #7
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Always record your serial number in an official manner. Use one of the registries online at least. If he had done it even after the fact and you had no other proof it was yours you could be the one arrested and lose the bike to boot. Then I would call the Chief of Police and give him a piece of my mind. Glad you got your bike back but that was a very risky operation.
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Old 03-15-14, 08:05 AM   #8
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Always a good idea to hang onto sales documentation which should include serial number.
The police response was BS.
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Old 03-15-14, 09:06 AM   #9
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What city was this in?

It's also time to write a letter to the mayor, chief of police, and police commission.... and the local news sources.
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Old 03-15-14, 09:14 AM   #10
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Glad you got the bike back.. but like they're saying you need documentation! I keep all the serials for my bikes on a list, as well as the fact that I have pictures from almost all my bikes being built up.. don't count on the cops to help you get it back, but count on the documentation to cover your butt if you have to do what you did again.
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Old 03-15-14, 09:29 AM   #11
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If he had done it even after the fact and you had no other proof it was yours you could be the one arrested and lose the bike to boo
You can register a stolen bike with a serial number. You can just add it to the case report or the national bike registry. I can't really say first hand how the police will handle the situation but there's still hope of getting your bike back in an official manner.

This is a link to the National Bike Registry for registering a stolen bike. here

I hope this thread could help someone else recover their bike

Last edited by nans; 03-15-14 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 03-15-14, 09:31 AM   #12
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The police had a point, if you can't prove ownership. I can't really fault their response, except that the way they put it might have seemed personal and insulting.

I'm glad you got it back without incident though. "Possession is nine parts" cuts both ways. Yet, I wouldn't commence with a letter writing campaign which could be inviting trouble. Consider: one party admits to "stealing" the bike, the other party hasn't admitted to anything. I'd let sleeping dogs lie.
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Old 03-15-14, 09:34 AM   #13
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I am considering writing letters as well . It would be nice to get the police to start setting up dummy bikes as well to show the community they actually do care.

Last edited by nans; 03-15-14 at 09:35 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 03-15-14, 06:34 PM   #14
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It sounds like the bicycle was locked up at the store for at least a couple hours. If so, it is likely the thief works at the grocery store or adjacent stores.

Now that he has lost the bicycle he stole, he will steal another bicycle soon. You could continue to walk by his home, see when the next stolen bicycle shows up and check craigslist for a matching bicycle reported stolen. That person may have the serial # proof to give the thief some actual justice.
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Old 03-15-14, 07:04 PM   #15
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Your story reminds me of an Italian movie from 1948 called "Bicycle Thieves". It is a great movie about one man's search for a stolen bike he needs for his work.
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Old 03-15-14, 07:29 PM   #16
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Always record your serial number in an official manner. Use one of the registries online at least. If he had done it even after the fact and you had no other proof it was yours you could be the one arrested and lose the bike to boot. Then I would call the Chief of Police and give him a piece of my mind. Glad you got your bike back but that was a very risky operation.
Another good thing is to take photos of your bike, then photoshop the serial number onto the picture.
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Old 03-15-14, 09:10 PM   #17
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OP, if it's stolen again, do you know its serial number now?

Can't think of a more stupid bike thief than this one. Would be exciting to hide nearby and see the thief's reaction when he saw the other U-lock on the bike.
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Old 03-15-14, 09:16 PM   #18
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Can I just say, this story is bad@$$?
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Old 03-15-14, 09:51 PM   #19
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OP, if it's stolen again, do you know its serial number now?
Yep i took it down as it was locked up.. I called the police and they said they can add it to the case report but it will take 72 hours until it is officially added. So i couldn't just call them out and say i have the serial number right then and there and have the guy jumped by the police.

I plan on officially registering it now under my wife's name. My lesson was learned
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Old 03-16-14, 12:29 AM   #20
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Have you not created a bit of a problem here, unless you have contacted the police to let them know the bike has been recovered?

If they see your wife riding around on a bike that matches your description, and they stop her and check the serial number, do you not consider that they will see her as the thief?

While it seems a great outcome, you should have left it the 72 hours with the police and kept them in touch with the bike's movements, and then left them to do the recovery.

Now, you could be headed for a potentially embarrassing situation and you could have some trouble explaining your way out of it because, technically, you have stolen back the bike, and especially as you obtained the serial number after the original theft (call evidence from this thread).

Machka's favourite bike was stolen from a campground, and every single detail was reported to the town's police, including the serial number and identifying photographs along with the description of what was a distinctive bike. The police dredged dams, put up fliers and all sorts of things in a small town. Nothing came of it.

Just over three years later, I saw the bike being offered on eBay in virtually complete and original condition save for some minor issues. We immediately put the matter in the hands of the police again, and co-operated with them to confirm the bike was Machka's, without taking it from the vendor. A court order was issued to enable the police to search the premises and seize the bike, which they did. Another court appearance was required to confirm the bike's identity and enable it to be returned to Machka. The person who had possession of the bike was not the thief, but someone caught in the crossfire.

From our experience, you have stepped entirely outside the process. It may have ramifications for you.
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Old 03-16-14, 01:20 AM   #21
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While I agree with Rowan that this is a potentially dangerous legal area for you, I must say that I can't think of any place in the U.S. at least where the police would do any of:

dredging dams
putting up fliers
issuing court orders for search warrants on a bicycle posted on ebay
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Old 03-16-14, 01:26 AM   #22
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Your story reminds me of an Italian movie from 1948 called "Bicycle Thieves". It is a great movie about one man's search for a stolen bike he needs for his work.
It is a great movie, you can go online and watch it in parts.
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Old 03-16-14, 02:27 AM   #23
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Well done, that must have been extremely satisfying. In the UK we have a government website where you can register photo's and serial numbers of our possessions which the police can use to check stolen property they recover - do you have any kind of equivalent over there?
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Old 03-16-14, 03:06 AM   #24
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Always record your serial number in an official manner. Use one of the registries online at least. If he had done it even after the fact and you had no other proof it was yours you could be the one arrested and lose the bike to boot. Then I would call the Chief of Police and give him a piece of my mind. Glad you got your bike back but that was a very risky operation.
What's this about online registries? Never heard of this myself.
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Old 03-16-14, 03:10 AM   #25
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Have you not created a bit of a problem here, unless you have contacted the police to let them know the bike has been recovered?

If they see your wife riding around on a bike that matches your description, and they stop her and check the serial number, do you not consider that they will see her as the thief?

While it seems a great outcome, you should have left it the 72 hours with the police and kept them in touch with the bike's movements, and then left them to do the recovery.

Now, you could be headed for a potentially embarrassing situation and you could have some trouble explaining your way out of it because, technically, you have stolen back the bike, and especially as you obtained the serial number after the original theft (call evidence from this thread).

Machka's favourite bike was stolen from a campground, and every single detail was reported to the town's police, including the serial number and identifying photographs along with the description of what was a distinctive bike. The police dredged dams, put up fliers and all sorts of things in a small town. Nothing came of it.

Just over three years later, I saw the bike being offered on eBay in virtually complete and original condition save for some minor issues. We immediately put the matter in the hands of the police again, and co-operated with them to confirm the bike was Machka's, without taking it from the vendor. A court order was issued to enable the police to search the premises and seize the bike, which they did. Another court appearance was required to confirm the bike's identity and enable it to be returned to Machka. The person who had possession of the bike was not the thief, but someone caught in the crossfire.

From our experience, you have stepped entirely outside the process. It may have ramifications for you.
Yeah, like he has his bike, whilst all the others who waited for due process are walking!!
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