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Need advice dealing with recovered stolen bike please

Old 08-02-15, 08:52 AM
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Need advice dealing with recovered stolen bike please

Advice please: my road bike was stolen from my garage at the end of May. Three days ago, I spotted someone riding it past my house; I stopped her and confirmed (via serial no) that it was my bike. She claimed she got it from a guy who said he found the frame in the woods and after some alleged due diligence (to be confirmed by PD), he decided he couldn't find its rightful owner and went about equipping it with new components and and then sell it. Says new components added up to $400 on Amazon and either wants them back or wants us to pay for them, assuming we want to keep them. Cops say, legally, bike and all new components are ours, but say the guy could sue to get his money back. This seems really ridiculous, especially since the guy's story has a lot of holes in it. Checking around, it's clear that he's a known member of the community and seems very unlikely to be an actual bicycle thief, but I wonder if he's just part of a bigger system. Does anyone have any experience with this? Thanks so much.
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Old 08-02-15, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by madasheck
Advice please: my road bike was stolen from my garage at the end of May. Three days ago, I spotted someone riding it past my house; I stopped her and confirmed (via serial no) that it was my bike. She claimed she got it from a guy who said he found the frame in the woods and after some alleged due diligence (to be confirmed by PD), he decided he couldn't find its rightful owner and went about equipping it with new components and and then sell it. Says new components added up to $400 on Amazon and either wants them back or wants us to pay for them, assuming we want to keep them. Cops say, legally, bike and all new components are ours, but say the guy could sue to get his money back. This seems really ridiculous, especially since the guy's story has a lot of holes in it. Checking around, it's clear that he's a known member of the community and seems very unlikely to be an actual bicycle thief, but I wonder if he's just part of a bigger system. Does anyone have any experience with this? Thanks so much.
It sounds like he's willing to give you your bike back if he gets to remove the components he added, right?

A stolen bike being stripped of components is the usual fate for a bike without a bling name brand (Cervelo, Ridley, etc.).

I would confirm that there are components on the bike that were not yours and let him keep them, then take the rest of the bike back and upgrade it myself.
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Old 08-02-15, 10:26 AM
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So you discovered somebody riding a bicycle that had previously been stolen from you. The person who has the bike, if they didn't steal it themselves, sought to benefit by buying a lower priced bike in a private sale. That's a risk that they took.

Now that the police have been involved I don't see any benefit to you in trying to make them happy. It's not your fault if they bought a bike that didn't belong to the seller. Unless the bike was a bare frame when it was stolen, the components that are on it are necessary to make you "whole". I don't think any court is going to make you pay $400.00 to get your own bike back.
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Old 08-02-15, 10:29 AM
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Totally agree with Retro. Find out how they feel about receiving stolen property.
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Old 08-02-15, 10:33 AM
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Surely your only dealings need to be with the police? Where she "bought" the bike is nothing to do with you and I'm not sure where what the seller wants enters into this AT ALL.
As for suing you to recover HIS costs? On what planet? He's willing to admit to being in possession of stolen property to possibly recoup $400? Idiot.
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Old 08-02-15, 11:20 AM
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The bike is your property as it was stolen from your garage! Get it back. You don't owe anybody anything. Don't make it your problem and don't over complicate your life.

This is so clear cut there isn't any decision making to do. Why would a newb make this their first post?
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Old 08-02-15, 12:07 PM
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What flipper is stupid enough to put $400 in new parts on a "found frame" (that he supposedly "determined" could not be returned to its rightful owner)? No way he could ever recoup his costs from the sale unless it's a classic Paramount or something, and even then it's doubtful. That story sounds beyond fishy. And what cop is stupid enough to give legal advice concerning a civil lawsuit? I'm sure giving legal advice to the public concerning matters unrelated to an officer's duties is against department policy. Keep your bike, don't pay anyone a penny, and don't give any parts back. If the idiot sues you (it's a small claims court matter), advise the DA's office so they can have someone there to arrest him for trading in stolen property when he shows up in front of the magistrate.
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Old 08-02-15, 12:09 PM
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I'm not a lawyer! Take the bike back. It is yours. Let the person who bought it second hand deal with the fellow who "found it in the woods". It is up to her to sue him for selling a stolen bike so that she can be made whole. The only court this guy could attempt to take you to is small claims court and he would be on mighty shaky grounds trying to prove he didn't even suspect the bike was stolen and then abandoned by the thief. Putting $400 in parts on a potentially stolen bike is pure folly. He must be a pretty dim bulb.
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Old 08-02-15, 01:44 PM
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It's your property that was stolen from you. If the guy has any claims, let him sue you for real and then get a lawyer to deal with that. I wouldn't return the components without the court ordering me to do so.
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Old 08-02-15, 01:52 PM
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If you have the original documentation that shows ownership, take it back. If you really want to, you can let them take the parts back, but I would be hesitant to do so. If they really want, they can sue, but they very likely will not bother with it, and even if they do, it is unlikely that they will win -- in order to recover, they will have to show on balance of probabilities that their story is true, that they did conduct due diligence, that they did actually spend $400, and that your actions are unreasonable and caused them to lose $400.
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Old 08-02-15, 02:22 PM
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Besides the fact he put parts on a stolen bicycle, Did he sell the bike to her? If so why would he be getting anything? His $400 should have been covered in the sale.

Either way keep the bike and all the components - no one is going to sue over $400 if if he had a legal leg to stand on.
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Old 08-02-15, 02:30 PM
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As the police say, the bike is yours. The stuff he added has the same legal status as if he built a house on your land. His loss. Take the bike back, and if it's materially improved from when it was stolen, and you feel like it, give them a few dollars for the upgrade.

Of course he can sue you, but I suspect that unless he can prove a clear title, by virtue of the police having held the bike for the required period, then turned it back to him (with a police record for the transaction), he won't get anywhere.

BTW- when folks threaten to sue me for nonsense like that, my pat answer is "that's what courts are for".

As for the woman who bought it from a third party, the best that can be said is that she innocently bought stolen goods, that makes it her loss, and she's free to sue the person she bought it from, but that's not your problem either.
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Old 08-02-15, 02:34 PM
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Old 08-02-15, 08:40 PM
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Did you report it stolen to the police? If so, you should have stood with the bike and called the cops. It's your bike, nothing anyone added to it matters.
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Old 08-02-15, 08:58 PM
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I suspect the op is concerned that the bike's new owner is a "respected member of the community" who wants his 400.
I doubt he'll sue you, but If you it matters to you so much you might make him an offer of some kind of settlement.
There are other questions here.
Did you report the bike stolen? If so the police would have had the serial number.
Did your insurance company pay you a claim....in which case it's technically their bike.
did he upgrade the components....If so then take the bike back and say "NYAHHH NAHH NA NA NAAA.
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Old 08-02-15, 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by 3gun
Did you report it stolen to the police? If so, you should have stood with the bike and called the cops. It's your bike, nothing anyone added to it matters.
This is a very significant, yet unanswered, question.
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Old 08-03-15, 05:56 AM
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Charge them both with possession of stolen property and get your bike back, you owe noone anything and chances are they are both lying anyway. You have a responsibility to do your due diligence to find the owner of something that is "found" and turn it in to the local police dept. At the very least he took a chance and tried to make money off of someone's misfortune. No sympathy for him here.
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Old 08-03-15, 08:46 AM
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hell, anybody can sue you for anything...winning is another thing...it is your bike.
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Old 08-03-15, 09:33 AM
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OP, I would ask you "how much is it worth to you?"

You could negotiate with the new owner, steal it back, or get legally involved; these are in order of increasing difficulty. If we're talking about a beater, is any of this worth the hassle?
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Old 08-03-15, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by obed7
hell, anybody can sue you for anything...winning is another thing...it is your bike.
I am not sure where your trepidation is coming from. The bike is yours. I would take the bike back and have no further contact with either of the other parties. If the person riding it is mad, than her complaint is with the person that sold it to her, not you. As for the person that sold it to here, I would not lose any sleep over him. That story is far to fishy to care about him. I do not know many people who would take a frame that they found and build it out to sell it. There is a high probability that there is foul play there. Even so, you are the victim. Let's not turn this guy into the victim.
I highly doubt that you will get sued but like obed7 said, anybody can sue you for anything. It costs money to sue people, even in small claims court. It is not worth anybody's time or money to sue over $400, especially in a case that is far from a sure thing. Hopefully the new equipment is an upgrade from what you had on it before.
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Old 08-03-15, 10:58 AM
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Keep the components. Even if the dude's story is true, about finding the frame in the woods, he should have known that it was stolen- as people don't generally leave perfectly good frames in the woods. Let him sue you if he cares to- it is unlikely that a court would make you return the components.

Never take legal advice from a cop. They are idiots, and usually don't even know the law.
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