I get a lot of bikes stolen.
Four since 2011, when I started riding real bikes: 2 Surly Cross Checks, 1 black Lemond, and, a week ago, a Specialized Tricross. I’m not really that reckless with them: all have been locked to something when stolen, including the latest. This one was locked with a Kryptonite Evolution U-lock around its (non-quick-release) rear wheel, to a bike rack next to our building, which is behind a locked gate and situated right next door to a police station. Apparently the thief came in sometime around 2am on Sunday, Nov 16, with a wrench, and pulled off my wheel to steel the rest of the bike, along with the rear wheel from Krystal’s, which wasn’t locked to the rest of her bike.
I was angry, even though I had intentionally bought this bike at a low enough price to supposedly not be too bothered if it got stolen. Nope, still angry.
So I spent the rest of the following week looking on Ebay (mostly via Bikeshd.co.uk) and Gumtree to see if it cropped up and also to try to find a reasonable replacement, since I didn’t expect to see it again. But lo and behold, what did I find this past Friday?
Definitely my bike – color, model, and components all matched, in a neighborhood less than a mile away from mine, for a suspiciously low price and with a tremendously poor description. So I called the cops, who set me up with a PS Walters in the Met Police. He instructed me to contact the thief and set up a meeting, and then they would take it from there.
I sent the guy a text and waited. No response for 45 minutes, but then a call from a different number. I picked up, and a guy asked me if I still wanted the bike. I said yes, and asked a few questions about the condition it was in. He said the rear wheel was a bit wobbly, since it didn’t fit the bike (NO SHIT, I wanted to reply), but otherwise it was fine. I told him I’d meet him at Whitechapel tube stop at 7pm.
Next I went to the police station on Kings Cross Road and explained all of this to PS Walters and another officer, who took my statement and explained how the operation would go down. I won’t go into too much detail to avoid publicizing their operating procedures, but essentially one posed as me, met the thief, and arrested him on the spot. The serial number on the bike matched, and I was able to pick it up first thing Monday morning.
The police were very helpful and professional throughout the process, and I was impressed that they would go to the amount of effort that they did to recover a bicycle, although I was told that these types of thieves are often involved in multiple types of criminal activity and that other bicycles, drugs, etc. might be found at his residence.
At the end, I’ve got the bike back – now I just have to keep it from getting stolen again.