Tuesday, May 27, 2008

a Happy Bike Month. Details of my bike rescue.


The fixed.gr forum in NYC is a place where you can announce an event, find a good recipe, post up your favorite album for download or sell your bicycle. It's no different then any other on-line community, interested in a particular activity. This one happens to be about bicycles, particularly the kind that have the back wheel cog permanently attached to the wheel.

One of the threads in the forum has received some recent attention because of the rise in stolen bicycles. People have posted up here in the hopes that others out there who aren't talking about bikes but actually riding them, might happen to see a stolen bike and take some action. This is exactly what happened to me on Sunday, and I was out of town. Some really amazing people in our "bike community" went way out of their way to rescue one bike bloggers ride. I am shocked, amazed and elated. I am thoroughly impressed with what went down and I believe it is a real reflection of our community, and how we aren't all talk on a forum.

Here are some of the details and heroics. (If I get any of this wrong, please let me know)

On Sunday, May 25th, I was out of town in Toronto, attending the wedding of the woman who married us. Danny, an avid forums contributor, was rolling down Ave B, he ran into Roscoe, who he had never meet but recognized him from his bicycle he'd seen on the forum. Roscoe was finishing up a daily ride, all decked out in spandex, when the two meet up. Both of them had noticed an orange KHS on Ave. C. around 6th street, a bike they also recognized from the forum as being stolen. It was hard to miss the Green aerospoke wheel. They began to trail the guy, a short Hispanic male, in a cameo thermal shirt who looked very awkward and did not possess the skills to ride a brakeless fixie. Danny and Roscoe began to make phone calls to try and get some backup and identify the bike. Danny, spending time in Boston to attend school, got in touch with Christina, who we all meet a few months back at Jacob's Pony Up alleycat. She was instrumental in proving it was my bike and calling some other people including my lawyer. Danny's girlfriend was there and she asked Roscoe, if they thought the guy could get away. Judging by his weird riding style..."no way." Dan Bones, Chombo and others were called in this impromptu phone tree, all trying to help.

Roscoe and Danny followed the perp down 6th street towards Ave D. Past that he went into the projects where he got off the bike and meet up with some of his hommies, who Danny described as: "Bigger," and as laws of the jungle go, it would be harder to confront him. At this point Pablo and Jack Crank showed up. Jack had helped someone else out with another bike rescue so this was becoming old hat for him. At this point they had a large enough posse to step in and asked the guy where he got the bike. They argued for a while and explained that the bike was stolen and they wanted it back. Here's where the details are a bit foggy, but they were able to convince the guy to come out of his building lobby and go with them to a place where the rightful owner would pay for his bike back. This was obviously about money, the guy said he bought the bike for $150 on Houston street and didn't want to loose money. The conversation didn't get heated but the person with the stolen bike was faced with 4 or 5 really persistent people, enough so that hommies of his thought it would be best if he just gave the bike up.

The bike crew convinced the guy that I was over by the bike polo grounds at Sara D. Roosevelt park on Chrystie street. This was an attempt to get him to a place where there were a whole bunch more bikers who could help out in this. Some how the guy agreed to go, but not by bike. He had a minivan close by and said he would meet them over there. With some degree of difficulty he tried getting the bike in his van, which made everyone suspicious and the crew decided to follow in case he fled. Pablo tried skitched the van for a while. Others wrote down the guys license plate and phoned it into the police, saying they could identify a stolen bike in the back of a mini van. At this point the van was rolling down Houston Street near 1st Ave. and Brad who owns Trackstar rode up in front of the van, blocking its path, basically saying the jig is up, its over. At this point the van tried to flee the scene and Brad tore off after him and supposedly scratched the van. This made the driver very upset and he began arguing with Brad which stopped the vehicle and allowing the police to roll up behind him.

At this point, Jeff Underwood who owns Continuum was there and others from Polo, including Dylan on her bling fluorescent yellow Brooklyn Machine works ride, that would stop any potential bike napper.

Having the filled a police report minutes after I had the bike stolen really helped keeping the cops interest. In recent cases of bike theft, the reality is that it comes down to the owner having to prove its their bike which can become difficult. Not too many people have serial numbers on their bike or have kept the original receipt and could produce it on the street. I wasn't even in the same country at the time. The police don't want to get involved in street justice and would rather stay neutral, but they were detaining the guy and were probably interested in why so many people were involved in this one bike. They had also managed to get my lawyer on the phone which helped in building my case.

If it wasn't for some hard negotiating on the side from Jeff, the police were ready to just let the guy go with my bike. Jeff worked out a deal for $50.00 bucks to get the bike back and even invited the guy come down to his shop and get another bike, maybe one that wasn't so sought after by the bike community. The cops made everyone shake hands in some sort of UN peacekeeping gesture and everyone disbursed.

I am really amazed that all this went on:

Special thanks to:

Roscoe and Danny for starting off the search party
Pablo and Jack for convincing the guy not to disappear into his hood.
Danny's girlfriend for helping out
Christina for helping from Boston
Brad from Trackstar...Wow, for your amazing heroics.
Dylan for helping out with the muscle.
Chris K. for adding legal assistance via the phone.
Dan Bones for phone support
Jeff Underwood for sealing the deal.

Continuum and Trackstar are not just great bike shops but really amazing community hubs who will go out of their way to help a biker in need.

If I missed anyone out there, thanks for being part of the greenwheel rescue team!! I owe you all a beer, at least.

and for all those out there who made fun of me on various websites, where I was constructively trying to share my experience with others in the off chance that this could happen, you don't have to sit in silence and shame.

There is a vibrant tight knit, awesome bike community out there...doing really positvie things and might just go above and beyond to help you out.

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31 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOVE

1:06 PM  
Blogger gabrielamadeus said...

Wow. That's an amazing story! I just had my garage broken into (while I was home) and 2 bikes stolen. Glad your story had a happy ending!

1:16 PM  
Blogger Bike Jax said...

Congrats on getting your bike back. You are so right when you say, "Not too many people have serial numbers on their bike or have kept the original receipt and could produce it on the street."

We have had a series of bikes stolen in our region lately and non of the owners had proof of ownership.

I created a simple document that can be downloaded and printed on plain paper or any standard 2 column business card stock.

which allows someone to keep their vital bike information with them. If your bike is lost or stolen and there is any confusion about who the rightful owner is. All you need to do is wipe this card out and end all doubts.

You can find a link to the DIY Bike Info Card here.

http://bikejax.blogspot.com/2008/05/diy-bike-info-card-or-how-to-cover-your.html

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you guys should have made the police check that guys minivan. I bet they would have found crazy powertools that are used to break into bikes on the street. These tools are powerful enough to opent the 150 dollar kyptonite locks. They just roll up on bikes and powertool them and put them in their vans.

1:46 PM  
Blogger Sycophantic Backstabber said...

Awesome story! Good for you!

I heard about your story through the snob; I was so happy when I found out you got your ride back. And not only did you get it back, but you got a story as well!

Also, thanks for reminding me to keep a detailed record of my bike.

2:00 PM  
Blogger Glenn said...

Great ending to the story.

Speaking of garages: Monday we had a BBQ and had the back garage open while going in and out. Wound down the evening (many drinks) and went to bed. Woke Tuesday morning and went to work. Came home and opened the inside door to the garage and saw that I had left the damn door open for nearly 24hours with many dollars worth of bikes in plain sight. Fortunately nothing was taken. Lucky this time.

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...particularly the kind that have the back wheel cog permanently attached to the wheel."

havent you ever heard of a lockring tool

3:07 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

Sweet!

3:42 PM  
Anonymous crissfyah said...

This guy needs your help:
http://beatbikeblog.blogspot.com/2008/05/sponsors-wanted.html

hit em up!

3:51 PM  
Anonymous shishi said...

I read about it on the forum, but glad you got your ride back. I still can't believe the aerospoke was still on it.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Nic said...

until the police respect bikers, fuck 'em all! shouldn't be such trouble with getting a stolen bike back from the po po.

7:41 PM  
Anonymous dy-lan said...

. haha, yea, my bright yellow bike was going to distract the police in my attempt to steal the bike from the van. Those cops were really about to let the guy go, but i wasn't fooled. I told him, hey we aren't leaving until that bike is out of the van. He tried to shut me up by letting me know he was a cop and things were under control. Right.... i then told him that you didn't even need two years of college anymore to be a cop and i could do long division in my head so i had everything under control. I always tell people, if my bike ever gets stolen, i'm not worried. I'll have the whole city looking for it.

9:01 PM  
Anonymous Clarence from Streetfilms said...

HOLY!

That is just amazing. Congrats....

11:06 PM  
Blogger rep said...

you guys rock

5:17 PM  
Blogger Gilby said...

I was so happy to hear about this! It definitely helps restore my faith in humanity. I know you got flak after posting the details of how it got stolen, but if you hadn't been so public about it I bet it never would have been recovered.

3:17 PM  
Blogger uptown bike said...

Whoooooooooooooo!

Indeed, this a fabulous story to read especially while in a place (Jordan) where bike commuting is pretty much nonexistent (unless you are some piss poor schlub or a streetcleaner).

Its soooooo nice to hear of all the folks I know lending each other a hand (and wheels) all in the name of cycling, bicycles and just plain friends!

congrats, mike!

philipp

8:25 AM  
Blogger David Y. said...

HOT

11:28 AM  
Blogger chillwill said...

yeah! well done!

too bad you had to pay the guy $50 and the police didn't get more involved!

but still...well done! great to see people lookin' out for one another like that!

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you probably know this trick:
write your name on an index card, roll it up, and stick it in the seat tube. Then if you have to prove it's yours, you just take off the seat and fish it out.
Hugs and Kisses.

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Blogger Philip said...

first, I am so stoked you got your ride back!

second, how awesome are all these people for taking the time and trouble - not to mention risking their safety - to help you out? the NYC bike community rocks pretty mfing hard when it wants to.

finally, I can't help being angry that it's so hard to identify our bikes. can you imagine the police sitting still for a thief selling back a stolen car?

I've photographed and written down my bikes' s/n before, I'm going to do so again, pronto, and urge everyone to do the same. Maybe have some one take a photo of you with your bike, showing its unique features and some proof of the date in the photo as well (public time/date sign?). Various items such as antiques and collectibles can be authenticated with a letter or other signed document certifying their provenance. Why can't we do this with our bicycles?

Thanks for sharing your wild tale and again, so glad no one got hurt and you are reunited with your bike.

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, why not post the guy's license plate online?

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