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Gettin' One Back! How my bike was un-stolen

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Gettin' One Back! How my bike was un-stolen

Old 06-10-14, 08:04 PM
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TornadoCAN99
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Gettin' One Back! How my bike was un-stolen

Lost my beloved all carbon hybrid some 1.5 yrs ago, taken from my garage, lock burned through and left on the ground. Did the usual stuff, reported to police & posted to local bike theft website with serial number & descriptions/photo. Put in a claim to insurance and got a reasonable settlement to get me a new new ride.

Fast forward 1.5 years. Get an email from a complete stranger: "Hey, that bike you reported stolen on the website...there's one just like on Craigslist!" Sure enough, though most of my custom components were not longer on the ad photo, there were enough left to make a positive ID. Talked to local police, not expecting much to come from them...boy was I wrong!
"Sir, please contact the seller to arrange to see the bike, then let us know time/place and we'll send an officer". OK, so we arrange for a meet two days later...seller will bring it to my specified location. I call the police..."Yes Sir, plase contact 45 min. before the meet time to confirm location and to meet the officer". OK, so I'm standing around a few blocks from the meet local waiting to meet the officer as planned. See a few police cars go by, but nothing stops. Then a rough character is spotted walking towards me from down the street...im thinking a homeless guy or maybe even the seller has spotted me! Roughian makes eye contact...I avert, he calls out "You Mr. XXX?...I'm a cop!". Phew! I share details with him as to what I know about the seller & the bike. I gave him a copy of the serial number & picture and handed him a PinHead lock key stating I think the stem bolt lock is still in place judging by on-line ad photos and the key should fit. He grins and says that's great! All the time he's in constant contact on radio with a team of at least 6 others in the area on stake out! We wait for seller's final meet up call once he's in the area....call comes in and he wants to change the pre-arranged location to a few blocks closer to where we are currently waiting....as I repeat the new location detail back to him, I can here the cop relaying to the team on the radio to re-position! I get seller to tell me what he looks like and he tells me his car model/colour...which I repeat back so cop can relay. My heart was pounding the whole time. I tell him I'll be 10 minutes to walk to the new locale. He's fine with it and we hang up. Cop takes off saying to stay put. I wait for 45 minutes...then an unmarked car pulls up and our jumps the same cop and pulls my bike out the trunk. He tells me the seller is squawking that he is part of a larger theft ring and giving up leader names. I later learn a few days later from the cop that this lead them to recovering several more high end rides.

Thanked the good samaritan emailer and sent him a couple of spare show tix I had laying around.
:

Oh, I also settled up with my insurance to pay back the now 1.5 year depreciated value on the bike...about $500 after a $1500 original settlement.

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Old 06-10-14, 08:16 PM
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Awesome, and good job settling with the insurance company.
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Old 06-10-14, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by otg View Post
Awesome, and good job settling with the insurance company.
Thx...they were pretty amazed at the story and I think it helped them be flexible with the current valuing of the bike...they just asked me to get a LBS written value estimate and they'd go with that as a settlement repayment. Later they asked am I happy with that $500 estimate and I said sure...fair enough, done deal.
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Old 06-10-14, 08:22 PM
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Man, and I thought I was lucking "unstealing" my bike from the local McDonalds!

M.
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Old 06-10-14, 08:40 PM
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Originally Posted by MEversbergII View Post
Man, and I thought I was lucking "unstealing" my bike from the local McDonalds!M.
Same exact situation for me as well. I was having coffee at McDonalds when I noticed a fellow jump on my bike, I was able to un steal it as well.
I'm very happy to read the OP's story. I still enjoy a happy ending.
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Old 06-10-14, 08:50 PM
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Good to hear some news like this now and then where the cops actually helped you out!
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Old 06-10-14, 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Northwestrider View Post
Same exact situation for me as well. I was having coffee at McDonalds when I noticed a fellow jump on my bike, I was able to un steal it as well.
I'm very happy to read the OP's story. I still enjoy a happy ending.
For me, I foolishly forgot to lock it up in front of my (then) townhouse. Someone nicked it but I spotted it leaning against a McDonalds not far from home on the way back from work the next day (borrowing a roomates bike). Was a bit sketchy walking home with a bike in each hand. Still had my locks wrapped around the stem.

Now in these cases like above are you obligated to settle up with the insurance company? I makes sense and feels like the "right" thing to do, but I've never heard someone mention that before.

M.
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Old 06-10-14, 09:09 PM
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That is amazing and reassuring that they worked that well with you for such a good result

The one time I had one stolen it was from the back of the townhouse in a quiet town. I thought I was just stepping in to get a drink, then someone called and I had to drive away from the front door. Later on I realize it wasn't in the kitchen but the cops already had it on hand almost 30 mins after it was last seen by me(5 hrs later noticed by me). Turns out 12 yr olds looked a little odd on a 21 inch mtb frame, lol and ran when confronted.
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Old 06-10-14, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by mtbikerinpa View Post
The one time I had one stolen it was from the back of the townhouse in a quiet town. I thought I was just stepping in to get a drink, then someone called and I had to drive away from the front door.
Yes, it happens so quickly it's amazing. I now always lock my bike with a cheap cable lock, even when I have the bike in sight . It slows them down only a little, but IMO will stop a majority of thefts
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Old 06-10-14, 11:57 PM
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Regarding insurance obligation, legally disclosing a recovered bike after a claim has been settled is required. Otherwise I would be "stealing" from the insurance company. They said I could repay my settlement in full to go back to a claim free status, saving me about $70 on annual premiums for next three years. Or stay on the higher premium and keep the settlement....but bike would need to go to auction...which could bid on. I responded with fact that bike had depreciated during time since stolen, when it was technically their bike, not mine, so why should I pay for that depreciated value. that's when they suggested an alternative, seeking a valuation from local shop. I was happy,they were happy and I got my bike back.
A Win, Win, Win I think it's called.
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Old 06-11-14, 12:04 AM
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Originally Posted by mtbikerinpa View Post
That is amazing and reassuring that they worked that well with you for such a good result
I think the local police were on a big bike theft push back due to a recent news story about a girl u tubing her own bike recovery sting....meeting a seller, taking a test ride and just kept going. police were on the story stating this was not Safe and they would respond in such cases if contacted.

The cop that worked my recovery told me he was doing Half a dozen bike stings that day.
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Old 06-11-14, 12:10 AM
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If only this is how my laptop recovery went... Wife sold a laptop and got counterfeit money in return... Ended up finding it listed on CL and set up a meet but something spooked the seller and that was the end of it - they texted and said 'something came up' and they couldn't meet and that was the last contact .

Glad to hear you got your bike back. It's a shame we have so many dishonest thieves in this world.
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Old 06-11-14, 12:54 AM
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I'm curious to hear these "unstolen" McDonald's stories...
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Old 06-11-14, 03:33 AM
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Great to hear a positive story!
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Old 06-11-14, 06:09 AM
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Great story, it made for a fun read! Thanks for sharing it in such detail.
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Old 06-11-14, 07:17 AM
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I love to hear that sometimes a person gets their bike back and the criminal gets sent to jail. At the prices of some bikes these days I would think it amount to grand theft. It seem to be even better in this incident since more than just the one crook was arrested, and several bikes were recovered.
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Old 06-11-14, 05:55 PM
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I bet the police response had a lot to do with you giving them everything they needed to pursue the case. You provided them with a serial number, a photo, the pinhead key, and the contact info of the person who likely had it in their possession. In other words, you did everything right and made excellent preparations in case of a possible theft. I think most bike theft victims don't even have a photo of their bike, much less a serial number, so there is little to nothing the police can do about it.
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Old 06-12-14, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Northwestrider View Post
Yes, it happens so quickly it's amazing. I now always lock my bike with a cheap cable lock, even when I have the bike in sight . It slows them down only a little, but IMO will stop a majority of thefts
A cable lock is certainly better than no lock at all, but, judging by the high quality bikes listed in the "My Bikes" of of your profile, I highly recommend you get a good u-lock. Even thick cable locks can be cut easily within ten seconds using commonly used bike theft tools like bolt cutters.

An NYC news station did their own bike sting. They locked up a nice bike with a cable lock. 16 minutes later a thief walked up to the bike with a compact set of bolt cutters and rode off with the bike in about five seconds.
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Old 06-12-14, 07:36 AM
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Insurance companies often don't want to deal with small items when recovered. My Mom had a lawn tractor stolen, claim paid, mower recovered some time later. They told her just keep it as it wasn't worth the trouble for them to deal with pick up, storage, auction etc.
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Old 06-12-14, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by CompleteStreets View Post
An NYC news station did their own bike sting. They locked up a nice bike with a cable lock. 16 minutes later a thief walked up to the bike with a compact set of bolt cutters and rode off with the bike in about five seconds.
I agree , the only reason I'm using a cable lock is it is easy to use and assessable ( not particularly good reasons ). I always have my bike in view when I'm out , is the other security I use. Last year, I used nothing , not even a cable lock. While having a coffee inside a McDonalds, I watched in disbelief, a fellow approach my bike, look left and right, then touched and rode off with it. I rushed outside immediately with intent to push him over, but before doing so, he jumped off and ran away. No damage. But I was so surprised at how little notice I had. The theft began and ended within ( as you said, seconds ). The cable lock would have given me a few more seconds. But you are probably correct, I should provide myself with even more time, by investing in a U lock, arrrggghhh. When in a grocery store, I'll park my bicycle inside the store, hoping it's security cameras will deter the bad guys. Hope is not much of a deterrent is it. Guess I do need another lock.
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Old 06-12-14, 08:39 AM
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No fair, I want to be part of a swat-team-undercover-takedown too!
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Old 06-12-14, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Northwestrider View Post
I agree , the only reason I'm using a cable lock is it is easy to use and assessable ( not particularly good reasons ). I always have my bike in view when I'm out , is the other security I use. Last year, I used nothing , not even a cable lock. While having a coffee inside a McDonalds, I watched in disbelief, a fellow approach my bike, look left and right, then touched and rode off with it. I rushed outside immediately with intent to push him over, but before doing so, he jumped off and ran away. No damage. But I was so surprised at how little notice I had. The theft began and ended within ( as you said, seconds ). The cable lock would have given me a few more seconds. But you are probably correct, I should provide myself with even more time, by investing in a U lock, arrrggghhh. When in a grocery store, I'll park my bicycle inside the store, hoping it's security cameras will deter the bad guys. Hope is not much of a deterrent is it. Guess I do need another lock.
Even good quality U-locks & the extremely heavy chains we see all the time now can be defected within moments by a properly be-tooled thief.

My bike had a cable lock with a flexible metal armoured shielding over the cable. I chose it over other locks since it was reasonably light weight, had a combo not a another key, and was more sturdy than normal cable. I was at least partially correct here...the theif left the lock behind and it had evidence of a cable-cutter trying to get through the armour...which did not work. The lock had a plastic sleeve at the ends of the cable section where the lock mechnism connected...the thief a flame (zippo lighter/propane torch?) to met away the plastic to get at the exposed cable and re-try the cable cutters...that worked for him. But, at least there was obviously more than a 5 sec deterrent happening. The theft happened from my supposedly secure parking garage. Now I keep the bike in my apartment and only use the same model lock while out and about.
My philosophy is I paid for high quality, lightweight bike. What's the point of lugging around a huge/heavy lock 100% of the time just incase of a theft attempt? Go with a reasonable compromise in weight/ease of use and take other precautions on where you leave the bike.

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Old 06-12-14, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by TornadoCAN99 View Post
Even good quality U-locks & the extremely heavy chains we see all the time now can be defected within moments by a properly be-tooled thief.

My bike had a cable lock with a flexible metal armoured shielding over the cable. I chose it over other locks since it was reasonably light weight, had a combo not a another key, and was more sturdy than normal cable. I was at least partially correct here...the theif left the lock behind and it had evidence of a cable-cutter trying to get through the armour...which did not work. The lock had a plastic sleeve at the ends of the cable section where the lock mechnism connected...the thief a flame (zippo lighter/propane torch?) to met away the plastic to get at the exposed cable and re-try the cable cutters...that worked for him. But, at least there was obviously more than a 5 sec deterrent happening. The theft happened from my supposedly secure parking garage. Now I keep the bike in my apartment and only use the same model lock while out and about.
My philosophy is I paid for high quality, lightweight bike. What's the point of lugging around a huge/heavy lock 100% of the time just incase of a theft attempt? Go with a reasonable compromise in weight/ease of use and take other precautions on where you leave the bike.
A good U-lock is much, much more effective at deterring theft than the lock you used. Personally I use a Kryptonite Evo Mini u-lock. It only weighs two pounds and it fits in my back pocket. If I'm walking with the lock in my pocket I do feel the two pounds of weight weighing me down, but, when I'm biking I honestly don't even know the u-lock is there. The seat fully supports the weight of the u-lock. At one point I locked my bike up outdoors overnight daily for six straight months. It was never stolen. If I had a cable lock I'm sure it would have been gone within a matter of weeks.

Unless you're using a bicycle purely for recreation, I don't see the point of living in fear that your bike will get stolen when you run an errand. Get a good u-lock and be done with it. Even if it's purely a recreational bike, what do you do when you have to take a dump unexpectedly?

If you don't want to put a mini u-lock in your back pocket, then get a u-lock that can be mounted to the frame of the bike. Bicycles are infinitely more practical when they can be used for transportation, but this is only made possible with a good lock.
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Old 06-13-14, 01:56 AM
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Originally Posted by MikeDVB View Post
It's a shame we have so many dishonest thieves in this world.
thats a tautology if I ever heard one!

to the OP: since its a carbon bike, have you gone over the frame and forks looking carefully for cracks? Maybe when the LBS did the valuation? Hell know what your bike may have gone through in the last year or so, wouldn't want a catastrophic fail...
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Old 06-13-14, 02:29 AM
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Originally Posted by TornadoCAN99 View Post
Even good quality U-locks & the extremely heavy chains we see all the time now can be defected within moments by a properly be-tooled thief.

My bike had a cable lock with a flexible metal armoured shielding over the cable. I chose it over other locks since it was reasonably light weight, had a combo not a another key, and was more sturdy than normal cable. I was at least partially correct here...the theif left the lock behind and it had evidence of a cable-cutter trying to get through the armour...which did not work. The lock had a plastic sleeve at the ends of the cable section where the lock mechnism connected...the thief a flame (zippo lighter/propane torch?) to met away the plastic to get at the exposed cable and re-try the cable cutters...that worked for him. But, at least there was obviously more than a 5 sec deterrent happening. The theft happened from my supposedly secure parking garage. Now I keep the bike in my apartment and only use the same model lock while out and about.
My philosophy is I paid for high quality, lightweight bike. What's the point of lugging around a huge/heavy lock 100% of the time just incase of a theft attempt? Go with a reasonable compromise in weight/ease of use and take other precautions on where you leave the bike.
As somebody professionally trained in breaking and entering, I give a Kryptonite u-lock 5 seconds against the right tool for the job. But it is noisy and draws attention. Somebody who really wants your bike will get it. It's not hard. But a u-lock is harder to defeat than a cable and thieves are artists of convenience. The more you secure your bike the more they find an easier target.

Still, I u-lock 100% of the time. Cables are too easy to defeat and all marketing department sales points are BS.
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