Let me tell you a little story about my stolen bicycle. It’s rare to have good news about a bicycle theft but I’ll tell you from the outset this story ends happily. It all started on a typical night (Thursday January 16th). I had ridden my Surly Long Haul Trucker Xtracycle this day, even though for the past few weeks I’d been riding the new Bike Friday Haul-a-Day. The brakes were rubbing a bit on the Haul-a-Day and I didn’t need to use the Hooptie to pick up the kids so I rode my classic steed. First a little background on the bike. I’ve had this bike since I worked at Pedal Express in Berkeley, California. Originally the Xtracycle was on an aluminum cyclocross frame in 2002 but I broke that from all the hard work I put it through (like racing it in the Cycle Messenger World Championships in Seattle in 2003). In 2004 I upgraded to the Surly Long Haul Trucker and the first major trip with it was the day Missy proposed to me at Hawk Camp in the Marin Headlands. Since then I’ve ridden that bike on a trip in the Czech Republic, on our Honeymoon in the Yucatan Peninsula, on our “All Around US” circumnavigation of the country, on countless errands/commute trips, many camping trips and eventually carrying all three of our kids on it. Needless to say it’s a pretty damn important bike. So on this night I parked it as normal at the Albertson’s at 18th & Chambers, picking up some food for my spanish class breakfast the next morning. When I got to the bike rack I ran into Lucas from Cascadian Courier Collective and talked for a bit. I shopped for about 10 minutes and when I came back out the bike was gone. I had this moment of doubt…wait, had I parked on the other side? No, it was definitely here. Oh crap, did I lock it? I’m sure I remembered pulling the lock out but now I couldn’t remember the actual locking moment. Did I just set the lock down? It wasn’t locked to the rack like I missed my frame. It wasn’t in my bag. I certainly don’t think someone ground it off right by the door of a busy store. It was the old Kryptonite that was “bic compatible” but that old trick probably isn’t used much really. I’ll never know what really happened but no matter what happened it was clear that the bike was gone. In all my years of cycling this was the second bike I’ve had stolen from me. The first was back in the early 90’s when I left a bike overnight in downtown Eugene with a cable lock. What can I say, I was a college student after a very fun evening. I did have one other bike stolen but it was one I was loaning to a friend and it was the classic “unlocked on the back porch” theft. I truly believe that a bike locked with a u-lock is very rare, except maybe in NYC. In Eugene I think most thefts are of bikes with cable locks or those left unlocked on porches, decks or backyards. My first call was to Missy to let her know I’d be walking home soon. At least I was close to home and didn’t have much with me. Next I checked with the store to see if they might have video but the loss prevention person was out. I left a message to have her call me. As soon as I got home I pulled out my “bike folder” and pulled my Eugene Police Department Bike Registration form. I had registered it in 2008 at a Breakfast at the Bridges event and had all the info including the serial number. I posted it on Craigslist, Facebook, Twitter, WeBikeEugene and other social media sites. With all of that; the registration, the social media and hundreds of eyes looking out I still wasn’t very optimistic I’d get the bike back. The next day I called my homeowners insurance (Farmers) and filed a claim. By Monday I had a brand new Xtracycle Edgerunner and was moving through the grieving stages and moving on.
Then on Tuesday an associate from my Safe Routes work, who is from Eureka (we’ll call him Tom to help keep him anonymous), wrote me and asked, “Shane…is this yours? http://humboldt.craigslist.org/bik/4297366546.html ” Uh, why yes that IS my bike. Okay so it made it down to California. Now what?!
Tom asked some questions of the seller to see what info he could find out. Here’s the initial exchange:
Tom: Hi, Can you tell me the size of it? What year is it? Thanks Thief: It’s 53 cm my sister bought it used and I used it for a little while and I drive now so it’s just sitting here I know it’s older than 2010 but it’s perfect condition with ALL new part s for sure
Great! I called the police and told them the bike had been found on Craigslist. They said they would send someone out that night but by 11pm I said not to bother as it was too late. Wednesday was a day of waiting for the police to come. They didn’t come to my home in the morning, they didn’t come to my work all through the day and that night I was starting to get discouraged. Meanwhile Tom had another exchange with the Thief:
Tom: That’s about the right size. 🙂 Where can I see it?
Thief: I could take more pics but for now I am stuck in eugene?
Tom: Are you planning on bringing it here or is the potential buyer suppose to travel? 🙂
Send more pictures if you can.
Thief (from his personal email…with a name on it): Of I would deliver , are you near Arcata?Thief in a second email (from the anonymous email): Of course I would deliver … Are you near Arcata ?
I wanted to say thanks to the whole “Velo Posse” that helped look for the bike (Kris- the late night search on the first night was especially appreciated), spotted it on Craigslist, offered to help with a sting, did detective work, gave emotional support, actually found the house (you sneaky detective Patrick), and helped with the recovery. Thanks to the Eugene Police Department; though I know you’re busy with many more serious crimes and though I might have seemed impatient I am am appreciative of your work and how you did take this serious enough and worked hard to get the bike back. I’m sure it meant a lot of paperwork. Thanks. A reminder to everyone. Register your bikes. It helps, a lot. You can now do it online in Eugene. To those past, present and future bike thieves out there; watch out. The Velo Posse is here and we’re ready to take Eugene off the “bike theft capitol of the US” map.