Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Happy Ending

(click for higher res)

Yay, my bike is back! Here's how it was made possible, super short version:
  • I posted on Craig's list again yesterday morning (my first post since I posted twice right after the bike got stolen; I was incredibly lucky with the timing)
  • Someone emailed me after reading the post, saying they'd seen the bike at a pawnshop on South St
  • I rode to said pawnshop. The bike was out for a test ride when I arrived so I waited around. When the customer finally came back, I immediately recognized my bike. It was then identified as mine in the store with the help of the serial number.
There are a few things to be said here. Now, everyone in the pawnshop was super helpful and understanding and friendly. They tried to get a hold of the person who was trying out the bike right away, they chitchatted with me while I waited, overall, they were great. But; I had to buy my bike back for $100, which is what the boss (owner?) of the pawnshop had bought it for.

After my bike had been identified, I rushed home to drop off my other bike (suggested by the pawnshop folks, I wasn't thinking clearly at the moment so off I went when I just could've grabbed both of my bikes and walked them home) and on my way back, I called a general detective to ask whether I had to pay the pawnshop or not. The detective told me I had to buy back my own bike if I wanted it back. I haven't been able to dig up any information on Pennsylvania's pawnbroking laws, so I don't know for sure whether this is true or not. It probably is though, which is absolutely outrageous. Obviously, anyone who buys stolen goods in good faith is a victim (i.e. pawnbrokers in this case) and therefore, the reasoning is that they need to be compensated if the purchased items turn out to be stolen. As a consequence, the original victim gets victimized again by being forced to pay to get their stolen items back.

While I was outside waiting for the guy who was trying out my bike to come back, the main pawnshop guy told me that even though my flyer (that I had just given to them) stated that there was a $200 reward, I'd only have to pay him $100. Did this guy ever attempt to find me, or find out whether the bike was stolen? Hell no. A simple search on Craig's list would've rendered three posts about my bike, with my information. A call to the police would've rendered my police report. Shrewd sir, very shrewd indeed.

Also, apparently the people who came in with the bike were really filthy (I was told to wash my bike with bleach). If 'filthy' people come in to your pawnshop with a high end bike that they end up selling for a hundred bucks, and you DON'T get suspicious, especially considering there's a well known used bikes store just around the corner, you're either ridiculously naive or you simply don't care what type of people or goods you do business with.

After my second visit to the pawnshop, I rode my Bianchi to the police station where I was interviewed. The pawnshop provided me with information on the seller (they are required to do so by law when stolen items are recovered) and luckily, the police was familiar with the person. Hopefully the seller will be taken into custody soon .

Now, hanging out with bike thieves, especially bike thieves on crack, is quite an ordeal, and unfortunately, my baby came back with some injuries:

Top dent probably from when the lock got popped off. The two other dents - who knows?

Seems like if you try to ride a bike while under the influence, you fall over a lot.

Apparently, someone had a problem with my derailleur. The little sucker probably gave them some 'tude, so it's understandable that they'd try to knock it off.

This is probably my favorite. What the heck happened here? Someone decided to see whether their scissors were in functional order? Maybe someone was in urgent need of something to roll a smoke with? Or did someone just decide to bite a chunk off of my bike?

This I think is a case of someone acquiring new sharp gear and getting excited to try it out.

This one's a mystery. Chemicals?

Finally, I guess these cats wanted to make my bike cooler looking by inducing some battle scars. Thanks dudes. It certainly gave my bike more character.

I had a bike shop give me an estimate of the repair costs today. I've got everything documented and hopefully, I'll hear back from the detective soon. I realize that I was incredibly lucky to recover my bike and safe to say, I will never, ever leave another bike outside over night again.

Feel free to check back here again soon; I'll post some more information on how to look for your stolen bike online and other things I did/learned during all of this that hopefully someone else might find helpful.


Michelle said...

Your bike has WAY more street cred now.

SorryGoFish said...

Yeah, your bike is bad-ass now. It's incredible that somebody saw your post on Creig's list. I don't cruise it looking for stolen stuff. It's amazing, really. I'm really curious to know how organized these guys are. I mean at first I thought they went through with a truck and stole many bikes but after seeing these pictures it blows my mind how sloppily the merchandise was handled. It so clearly looks like a stolen high quality bike. Anyway, you're my hero for getting this thing back, maybe I'll find my coffee mug now.

Anonymous said...

Man, they really jacked that thing up! At least you go it back.

What kind of lock were you using, a large U-lock with a cable?

I use a heavy-duty motorcycle chain covered in a kevlar sleeve. You can't use a bolt cutter, sawzall, or even a sledge on it. While that means I'm screwed if I ever can't get my bike unlocked, it also means no one has ever even tried to take it. I've left it out all over the city without issue. Maybe it's overkill, but it works! My frame would be easier to cut than the lock/chain.

Joanna said...

michelle: gary is now indeed a bike of the street. i kinda wish i knew where'd it been and what's happened to it! it's a mystery.

sorrygofish: I don't think they're very organized. It seems like the original thief passed it on to a group of drug users who then sold it cheap to the pawnshop after holding on to it for a few weeks. I doubt there's anything more to it than an asshole with some tools, cruising the city at night for an opportunity.

I hope you get your mug back!!! Maybe someone packed it in the wrong box during the lab move?

mayostard: I was so lucky that they didn't ruin it more! Still, repairing it will be costly according to the bike store :(

I used a Kryptonite U-lock, I think a 9' x 11'. There are photos of it after the theft in an earlier blog post.

Looking back on it now, it was stupid: the smaller the lock, the better, as this gives less room for placing any tools in there, and restricts thieves from applying much force. I didn't use a cable, since my wheel was bolted on. I now have a smaller U-lock for my other bike, along with a cable. I won't be using the Bianchi for a while now, but I'm considering using a two-lock system in the future: I've seen this on a Specialized a block from my house, and it looks effective.

How heavy is your chain? Is it reasonable to carry around in a backpack?

SorryGoFish said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

How much are they quoting you for the repairs?

Do you have a paypal account where other bicyclists can donate a few bucks toward that repair cost?

Joanna said...

mayostard: $300 bucks (!!!). This covers a premium tune-up and and the parts that need to be replaced.

I haven't set up a paypal account. Thanks for the idea, but I'd feel funny asking people to give me money. Hopefully this will go to court and I'll get something back... we'll see.

Sarah C. Stuart said...


I just got my bike stolen (three days ago) right at the corner of 16th and Arch Streets. I made a report to the police. What do you recommend I do?

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