The full story of finding my stolen bike on Craigslist and GETTING IT BACK!

Some of you who know me in real life may know that several months ago my friend Nathan and I were able to retrieve his stolen bicycle from the thief who had taken it 30 minutes earlier.  Time for round two, this time with MY bike.  Anyone who knows me knows I love my downtown bike, built for me by my friend Chris a few years ago:

On Wednesday, March 20th, I went to see a movie at the downtown Phoenix AMC Theatre in the middle of the afternoon and when I came out, my beloved bike, which had been locked to a bike rack on the side of the building, was gone.  After going through the usual “maybe I locked it somewhere else” routine for 15 minutes I had to accept the fact that someone had STOLEN it.

After walking home, I got in my car and started cruising around downtown looking for it but really had little hope.  I made a flier to put up in a few places like the downtown ASU campus and then because I had read an article about finding their property on Craigslist, I started looking on there.  I didn’t really expect to find anything, so imagine my surprise when I see this ad placed four hours after my bike was stolen:

Not much to go on, but I just had a feeling.  My bike fit the (limited) description, and since I had my frame powdercoated there were no markings as to the manufacturer, and usually people selling bikes will put at least the make and model if there is one they can see.  I decided to call the guy up…

I got the guy on the phone (he said his name was Al) and gave him a story about wanting a simple single speed bike for my wife (I’m actually single) and asked a few questions but nothing too detailed; I didn’t even ask the color.  Al volunteered that it had “big tires” on it and I responded that I didn’t really want a bike with knobby tires because she was going to ride on the street.  He responded that the tires were large, but smooth and not knobby.  Gotcha, man!  Who else but me has a single-speed 29er with 2.25″ Schwalbe Big Apple tires on it??  THIS WAS MY BIKE.

I said maybe I could come see it the next day and acted like I was in no rush and he said that he could show it to me anytime the next morning up around I-17 and Northern.  I said I would call him in the morning and see if we could arrange something, trying not to act too eager, which I certainly WAS at this point.

Needless to say, sleep was difficult if not impossible that night.

I called Al the next morning after having picked my buddy Nathan to help with this (as I mentioned, he and I had caught a guy who stole his bike months earlier; I still need to write about that one, which was pretty interesting).  I had filed a police report online, and then called the Phoenix Police to ask how to handle the situation.  They said the way they work it is to have me arrange the meeting, then call the police about 15 minutes before from a nearby location to show them my ownership evidence (photos of me with the bike, a list of components and markings on the bike) and to devise a plan.  So here we go…

I dropped Nathan off at the meet location about 40 minutes ahead of time to act as a scout and we stayed in constant contact through text.  A typical interaction:

Nathan: “All still clear.”   Wayne: “Roger.”

Yeah, we were playing spy, but why not?  We might have a chance to get my bike back!

I wasted some time before calling the police about 25 minutes later.  They showed up, I showed them my report and ownership evidence and explained it all.  We decided that I would wait for the guy at the meeting location and as soon as Nathan saw him riding up he would call one of the officer’s cellphones and tell him the guy was there with the bike.

Then I get a call from Al asking if I was there and asking if my (fictional) wife was with me.  I said she couldn’t make it because of work but if it would fit me then it would be fine for her.  I don’t know if he had spied me and called to see why I was alone, but he said he could be there in a couple of minutes.  Like two minutes later, the guy rides up ON MY BIKE (I knew it!) and we started to chat.  I kept my composure though I wanted to throttle him, but didn’t want him running before the police arrived either.  I looked the bike over and asked a question or two to waste some time until the police arrived, and the next thing I know Nathan comes flying around the corner and two Phoenix Police SUVs roll up fast and box us in.


I then got pissed and told the guy “You need to talk to these officers; you stole my fucking bike man!” then gave him a hard shove away from my bike before the one of the officers told me to stop because I think he didn’t want me getting in trouble.  I wanted to punch the guy but doing that in front of two police officers would probably not be the smartest thing.  Plus this may sound weird, but a small part of me felt sorry for the guy; he was probably in his forties and didn’t seem agile enough to have stolen it so I’m sure some one else stole it and then he just sells them.  I’m not saying that makes him a good guy, but he certainly didn’t look like he was getting rich off of this; I guess it is just his (bad) way of getting by.

Just before we left, this was the scene:

Yeah, my buddy Nathan looks pretty pleased but I guarantee you that my smile on the other side of the camera was at least as big.  And as we get into the car to drive off, Nathan turns to me and excitedly says the exact same words to me as I did to him several months ago when we caught the guy who stole HIS bike:

“Dude, can you believe it??  We got your bike back!!”

Maybe the excitement comes because so few people are fortunate enough get back what gets stolen from them.  A sad fact.

Well this time, score one for the victim.

8 thoughts on “The full story of finding my stolen bike on Craigslist and GETTING IT BACK!

  1. Joe Friday March 23, 2012 at 7:14 pm Reply

    wow that’s amazing! Buy one original chicken, get one free? Wow.

    • Patricia Thursday March 29, 2012 at 2:48 pm Reply

      I feel good all over , my son got his bike stolden , he found it at a pawnshop but I didn’t have a bill of sale . So I’m so glad you won!!!

      • me Thursday March 29, 2012 at 3:25 pm

        Thanks! I was amazed!

  2. Murph Wednesday April 18, 2012 at 11:05 am Reply

    Very cool., love to hear it. I had a nice bike stolen a long time ago, never got it back.
    Any idea what happened to the guy?

    • me Wednesday April 18, 2012 at 11:07 am Reply

      No, I never did find out. I was too excited to get my bike back I guess 🙂

  3. meh Thursday July 12, 2012 at 7:25 am Reply

    Nice bike – is that a Kinesis aluminum frame?
    Glad you got it back.

    • me Thursday July 12, 2012 at 8:07 am Reply

      It is actually a Surly Karate Monkey frame.

  4. Ima Dedutie Friday July 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm Reply

    I have a bike with a scratch n sniff seat so I can always find my bike again, by the scent if my hiney hole, if it’s ever stolen.

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