August was pretty bananas here at the Bike Index. Lots of recoveries, lots of near-misses, lots of exciting new partnerships coming along - and a nice Bike Index mention in Outside magazine! :O
I'm going to switch it up a bit in this edition and include some of our 'misses' - stolen bikes that were spotted & flagged, but still got away. It's nice to focus on all the bikes we recover, but there's a lot to be learned from bikes that get away, so I'm sharing some of those stories as well.
In this edition:
As always - before we begin - quick favor to ask:
1) Please tell your local bike shop about the Bike Index! We're getting great recoveries thanks to our bike shop partners - and we could always use more.
2) Haven't registered your bikes yet? Seriously ... you're killin' me here ... what are you waiting for? Please register ASAP, and tell your friends.
Thanks everybody! Keep your bikes safe!
Here's our August recoveries:
Recovered by University of Washington Police Dept! -- Thanks @uw_police! We're always grateful to our university Bike Index users :)
Finder of the bike called me! Ed note: No other info provided - sometimes we simply don't get a whole lot to go on other than the original spotter tip and messages like this. (Not even a "thanks!" - which always kills me ... )
The awesome Brady McCash (show below) at Discovery Bikes in Long Beach WA pulled this stunning stolen Waterford back once he id'd it in the Bike Index. This bike was stolen from Portland Oregon, and Brady's in Long Beach WA - which means this bike hopped state lines and went over 100 miles. Crazy! Brady has a long history of bike recovery - "That was the 23rd bike I've recovered stolen - Thanks for the awesome site and support to stop bike thieves" --- Thanks Brady! Hope you enjoy the Bike Index schwag we sent your way :)
Recovered by local bike shop ICS ... the (rider) wanted to change the tires!
Spotted for sale on govdeals.com, where Portland Oregon's seized bikes go to auction when they are unclaimed. There's one lone & fantastic Bike Index user who routinely spots and flags bikes posted for sale that are also listed in Bike Index. Owner says: "That is indeed my bike! Thank you so much for the email. I contacted the property dept. and they still need to verify my police report ...Still, very exciting."
"A man purchased my stolen bike from a woman (assumed thief) on Craigslist. He googled the serial number to purchase parts (since the thieves damaged my bike) and noticed through Bike Index it was stolen. He contacted me and returned it. A true good Samaritan to whom I'm forever grateful - An amazing story that showcases the goodness of humanity!"
"A person within two blocks found my bike after another bike theft. They Looked up the bike on Bike Index and got my contact info!"
"Bike was found in a hotel room in Milpitas, approximately 10 miles from location of the theft. Milpitas Police confiscated the bicycle, checked the serial number, identified it as my bike ... case is still undergoing investigation."
Our friends at LAPD found and ID'd this stolen Specialized Crosstrail Disc, returned it, and covered their recovery in this piece on lapdonline.com. LAPD is just getting started with Bike Index, but we're excited to help them fight bike theft from here on out :) See also "LAPD Detectives Reunite Man With Bicycle Thanks To Free Registration Site"
The fantastic @RealTimeLandis found a stolen Virtue Bike Classic and reached out to us over Twitter. Upon checking out the photos, we noticed a SFSAFE/Safebikes sticker with a registration number on it - however the SFSafe serial lookup was returning nada. Zip. Zero! Super frustrating! So: We reached out to a contact in SFSAFE & found the owner, the bike was returned, and everybody wins. Apparently the SFSAFE/SAFEBIKES serial search only searches the manufacturer's serial number, and not the SAFE Bikes Registration number ... which, um.... yeah. I got nothin'. SFSAFE, I may be biased here but perhaps you should let us fix that for you! :P
Stolen Giant was spotted on OfferUpNow.com, ID'd via unique item still attached on the bike, so we took it up with the owner over email: "This is the person that was selling it....in case you see other stolen bikes on there." (Owner contacts seller here and much of the usual happens, ending with the seller saying he sold it) -- Later: "YAY!!! I'm getting my bike back. His sale to the pawn shop alerted the police."
"A good Samaritan saw my bike and emailed me. Seattle PD was called but the bike not recovered right then ... a week later, the same cops are in The Jungle (Seattle's notorious homeless encampment / sprawling mess) and he recognized by bike from the previous week! Thanks guys!" (photo shows 'The Jungle')
There's a prolific SF spotter and all around ninja (now tweeting at @SFbikebandits) who spotted this amazing stolen Butchers and Bicycles cargo trike just a few days after it was taken - "Listed our stolen cargo trike with you and got a notification from (redacted) -- Hubby scanned for it with undercover cops. We recovered at Best Buy near Division (in SF). Thank you so much for the eyes and support!! Wouldn't have found it (in one piece) without you."
Recovered by the Berkeley Police Department (longtime friends of the Bike Index!) and ID'd via its Bike Index listing
This was a fun one - I saw this tip on a stolen bike here in Portland come in while biking home - (Thanks BD! you rock!) - "There is a bike that looks just like this on the corner of (redacted) -- it is a known vagrant camp". Oddly enough, I was only about six blocks away at the time, so I rode by and met the spotter - who had by now confirmed the serial and called the police. While the officers came and recovered the bike, we called the owner, who was out of town at the time but pretty happy to hear from us. Here's what she said, later: "It's my bike. You guys are awesome. We know all our stuff is inside but there's not much the cop can do since no one will open the door. We are going after these people.. Thanks for being such rock stars. I can't thank you enough... Seriously. Thanks so much. Everyone seems to know that this house is a problem, including (redacted) my coworkers who bike by it, and neighbors on Next Door." Later: "Also, via next door website, a family found their stolen older Burley trailer sitting in the front yard of this house yesterday." Needless to say this house is on our list now ...
Recovered by Stolen Bikes Nola! Ed: Speaking of Stolen Bikes Nola - they're undergoing some hard times and are now running a GoFundMe. If you know anybody in the New Orleans area who cares about fighting bike theft, let them know. They've recovered hundreds of bikes and are a good crew - support them if you can!
Long story here, but here's the tl;dr: Two bikes stolen. One bike immediately spotted on OfferUpNow.com. Owner somehow tracked down the seller to their home address using some crazy detective skills - and spots their bikes. Cops are engaged. (The owner, to police: "Screenshot shows the “Other Items” for sale on “Offerupnow.com”. These items can be used to match to a user on “Letgo” who is listing identical items...") After much chasing ... "I basically tracked down where the apartment where the seller had lived for a short period, Officer interrogated the lessee, lessee gave up name of the seller, Officer dealt with OfferUp and LetGo ... Officer contacted both, buyer said she traded a bike + $100 for mine (claiming did not know it was stolen, that’s a bit sketchy but..) and now the bike is in the officer’s hands."
"Someone reached out to me through Bike Index as they found an ad on OfferUpNow.com that matched my stolen bike. After coordinating with the police on a planned meeting with the seller to "buy" the bike, the bike was recovered and the seller was handcuffed and sent to jail. This was also a good learning opportunity, since the city of Salt Lake City requires bike registration for all bikes - I wasn't aware of this. I also considerably upgraded my bike lock and am revisiting my insurance policy."
Another recovery from the awesome crew at WTFBikes in Portland OR - "Hey! I have your bike! I am at WTFbikes ..."
Redacting a lot of info here, but ... another Stolen Bikes NOLA score - "I am sitting here laughing how this all went down and wanted to say thanks again man!"
"Found by a very observant person at the Wagon Wheel Flea Market (Pinellas Park, FL) - displayed for sale and then ID'd ... This person then called the police and an officer worked quickly to recover the bike. I hope that I can pass this good deed forward one day!"
"I got a call from a stranger telling me that he saw my bike for sale on letgo.com .. What a guy! Is everyone that diligent? I offered to buy the bike and we met in a parking lot. I called the police as he was pulling into the parking lot, bought time “test riding” and heckling, and waited for the cops to show up. They immediately arrested him for multiple outstanding warrants. Both wheels and pedals were swapped out for lesser quality gear but still a big success!"
"Thank you so much Joe and Bike Index!! Joe saw a sketchy ad on OfferUpNow.com, checked on Bike Index and contacted me. We set up a buy and got the cops involved ... and I got my bike back!!"
"A person bought the bike from someone on the street and then checked Bike Index to see if it was a stolen bike. We had registered the bike and so he found it and contacted us. On Monday morning we were lamenting the loss of the bike. By Tuesday evening we had the bike back and were grateful for our good Samaritan and for Bike Index."
"This bike and another was discovered at a pawnshop via (flagged) Craigslist posting 9 after the theft! Remarkably, the bikes were reported to the City of Pittsburgh and the serial numbers were given (as is required by law) HOWEVER, apparently the police don't share stolen serial numbers with pawnshops - Since the pawn shop can not search for stolen serial numbers they did not know the bike was stolen (because, you know... everyone who owns a relatively new and fairly expensive mountain bike is willing to sell it to a pawnshop for 4.5% of the purchase price, right?) and the detectives who had the serial number did not make the connection between the police report and the pawnshop report. I pointed out my Bike Index page to the pawnshop and they were interested in a more effective method of identifying stolen bikes ... "
"Gresham police got it back for me. They are awesome!!" Ed: noting here that Gresham police are, in fact, awesome - they've hooked up a number of recoveries through us over the years - thanks Gresham PD!
"The bike was found on campus ... with the bike registration decal scraped off and the wire basket missing. Bike is still functional. Good karma from you guys - thanks!"
"Bike was seen at Lovejoy Fountain Park (Portland, OR) - an alert observer called Portland Police Bureau who made the arrest and secured my bicycle - along with a second bike."
The prolific & unwavering @SFbikebandits also spoted this stolen 2006 GIANT OCR3 'in the wild' and connecting with SFPD to pull it back. For those of you keeping track, yes, this is the 6th or 7th bike @SFbikebandits has pulled back in SF, and if you're in the SF area and want to see how it's done, wow, follow them - @SFbikebandits.
Here's something interesting: A conservative estimate of the total combined value of all these recovered bikes (based off of similar online sales info) - is $33,400.
And now, here are some of August's stolen bike 'misses'.
These are stolen bikes that are spotted, positively ID'd, and then pursued - but not recovered. You would not believe how much time these 'misses' eat up - all time we sink into emails, coordination with folks we know in the specific areas ... it adds up. So: here's what we're up against:
Tipster: "Hello .. I know where your bike is ... I know who stole it and who he sold it to, where you can find it. (lots redacted here) I don't think it's right people to steal other people's property" Owner: "Yes, the tip did pan out. However, the perp got away due to the slow response from the authorities. I'm grateful this site allowed me the chance to retrieve the bike though"
"Spotted (PDX bar name here, sent in by a shop worker who has recovered bikes before). Dude split when I asked to see the serial number."
(Bike found, then) "called police, response time was over 6 hours & they called me after midnight yesterday. Today detective went to the location of the bike & never checked to see if my receipt & model # matched the bike. Told me their story matched, they bought it a month ago, they are the only ones with this bike in the area & they have to find the receipt! Funny I have the receipt & I bought it a month ago! Disgusted with all this!"
"I just stumbled on this and thought it might be yours...(OfferupNow.com link)" Owner: "Wow! I think that's it! Mainly because of the cage. That's the exact cage I had. What are the odds?!!"(later) "No dice, police were less than helpful and now the post has been removed. Bummer. Thanks for the heads up."
"I really appreciate all the help and the link. Unfortunately it seems it was sold on OfferUpNow.com so I am trying to track down the buyer as well as the individual who sold it to them so law enforcement can intervene."
Stolen Bianchi spotted on OfferupNow.com: "We contacted them and set up a time to meet, and we contacted the police. They sent someone over to stake out while my wife engaged. They were 10 minutes late. When my wife went to go meet them they had a different bike than what they advertised. When we pointed that out they said "Oh I know which one that is I think. Let me call the person who has it." She said it went straight to voicemail, and "If I can get ahold of him I'll let you know" -- and they left. Got a text an hour later saying bike was sold - and the seller listed it as sold on OfferUp. My guess: they noticed the cop car opposite the parking lot or were just trying to bait and switch my wife. I flagged the seller on Offerup but they haven't done anything yet".
Stolen Specialized spotted on Craigslist. Owner alerted. "I had three different people write emails to the author of the Craigslist ad ... but we never got any response."
Tipster: (gist: bike spotted at a known drug house) Owner: I've had two independent witnesses see my bike at the address. I've forwarded their email & contact info to the detective the case is was assigned to... I have to "convince" the officer to go out there ... very frustrating especially because the Bike Index has been such an incredible tool. "
Now, let's end this article on a good note!
I can't wrap this up without linking to Outside Magazine's coverage of Seattle's Bike Batman!
"Bike Batman was just an average-seeming guy in Seattle who liked to ride his bicycles. He had no inkling to become a vigilante who would face off against criminals while armed with little more than a smartphone, some spare time, and a pair of brass balls. But sometimes in life, the cape finds you."
Thanks for reading, all! Keep your bikes safe ...