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Beware of test-riding crook on Craiglist

Posted by on April 29th, 2009 at 9:23 am

Stolen.

My friend Felix got his bike stolen last night and his experience might be a lesson for others.

Felix posted a listing to sell his bike on Craigslist. A man responded with interest (Felix says the phone number displayed as “unknown”) and then showed up at Felix’s house at about 9:00 pm last night to take it for a test ride.

Felix says the thief left his backpack as collateral and then left for a test ride. After about 10 minutes, Felix checked the backpack and found nothing but a blanket stuffed inside.

Be on this lookout for this uniquely customized Specialized P2 Cromo

Story continues below

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Now Felix is on an all-out manhunt for the thief and his bike. This should be a lesson to everyone to use caution and due diligence when dealing with a Craigslist transaction.

Now, since our Stolen Bike Listings aren’t fixed yet (we’re working on it!), here’s the info on Felix’s bike and more information about the thief. If you’ve seen either one, contact Felix immediately at felixzero@gmail.com or (503) 459-2673.

Bike details:

    Specialized P2 Cromo
    Bright orange bike
    Purchased from Fat Tire Farm
    Orange Oury grip
    Black with red stitching Shadow Conspiracy seat
    Dark red Odyssey pedals
    Black Odyssey brake levers
    Rigid black Kona P2 fork
    Serial number: WUD706291388
    (A police report has been filed)

Thief details:

    Male with clean cut brown/blonde hair
    Late 20s
    Mild British acccent
    Said his brother was a bike mechanic
    Said he had a passport in the backpack

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Comments
  • bhance April 29, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Did you have any email contact with the guy? Or just phone contact?

    Even if you only had phone contact – and even if the number comes up as ‘unknown’ – sometime your cellphone company can still dig a number out if there’s a crime involved.

    Might be worth checking out.

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  • bahueh April 29, 2009 at 9:32 am

    how short is Felix?

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  • Ian Hopper April 29, 2009 at 9:35 am

    A good tip for people having someone test ride a bicycle or motorcycle: take a photo of them with the bike, even if it’s just a cameraphone shot: then you have something to show the police. Tell them it’s for insurance and if they’re offended, they can move right along… this is even better than having someone leave a drivers license or credit card b/c both can be faked or stolen or forged, but a photo shows exactly what someone looks like.

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  • K'Tesh April 29, 2009 at 9:42 am

    +1 on comment #2…

    I was going to post the same recommendations, but got a 500 error.

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  • Anonymous April 29, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Always hold the test riders ID while they ride.

    If they come by car write down the plate number.

    Always check the ID against the individual, if they’re out to steal a bike it’s likely they have false ID.

    If possible hold a credit card as well.

    Even with these precautions we got ripped off at the store.

    Customer came in gave us his driver’s license and credit card, then took a $3k mountain bike out and didn’t return.

    The scam, the customer reported his wallet stolen an hour before, so even though we had the credit card it couldn’t be used to recoup the cost.

    After that we started charging the price of the bike before the test ride and voiding the charge when the bike returned.

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  • Steve April 29, 2009 at 10:24 am

    Always get a criminal background check, perhaps call the police ahead of time and have them present for the test ride. Become facebook friends with the person first, get all of their important relationship data and perhaps contact a few of their friends for vouching purposes! I mean, that’s what any prepared person would do..

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  • Gabriel McGovern April 29, 2009 at 10:42 am

    and… don’t forget a blood sample for mandatory pre-ride drug testing.

    Come on people! We shouldn’t have to always live in paranoia and fear. Having someone rip you off is horrible and I hope he gets caught, but lets not go overboard.

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  • velo April 29, 2009 at 11:02 am

    I typically ask for cash for a test ride, it may seem like an jerk thing to do, but I figure if someone is serious and actually interested in buying they will throw down.

    If I see him riding around I’ll put a stick in his wheel for y’all.

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  • BURR April 29, 2009 at 11:15 am

    @ #2 – if you don’t know squat about BMX or flatland bikes or riding you should keep your mouth shut, your comment makes you look like a dumbass.

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  • Anonymous April 29, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Steve and Gabriel,

    It was helpful advice based on experience. You make sure you’re holding enough property of value to offset the loss of the bike if it happens.

    A little paranoia goes a long way in a world where CraigsList is being used as a means to commit crimes, any where from petty theft to murder.

    I would love to live in a world where everything is rainbows and happiness, but that’s not reality. You have to protect yourself.

    I hope Felix gets his bike back. It unique enough to garner attention.

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  • SkidMark April 29, 2009 at 11:35 am

    Lulz @ bahueh and K’Tesh: I know when I’m out dirt jumping I want my seat right under my junk.

    The 23″+ top tube tells me it’s for a big boy.

    Some bikes are for something other than commuting.

    And Steve, if someone wanted to invade my privacy like that to sell me a bike, I’d find another bike. Having an ID in your hand, and examining it to make sure it’s them and not a fake, is about all you need, although asking them for a cash deposit is a good idea too.

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  • K'Tesh April 29, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Ok… this is wierd…

    I was +1 ing the comments of Ian Hopper, because that was the #2 when I posted… now it’s #3.

    so to recap… +1 Ian Hopper…

    and bahueh what does height have to do with this?

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  • beth h April 29, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    People are out there who exist to rip you off. I don’t think it’s going overboard to collect cash, credit card or other ID for a test-ride. I also think taking a photo of the person on your bike wouldn’t hurt.

    I also have photos of my bike from multiple angles (including a high-def photo of the serial number), which I keep on file for insurance purposes.

    There’s going overboard, and then there’s simply working with the existing reality. The existing reality means that many more people are desperate enough to steal than in the past. Looking out for yourself and being proactive is not something to be ashamed of.

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  • steve April 29, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Felix does not appear very clever as portrayed in the post above. Even so, I hope the thief is found, punished, and publicly ridiculed.

    Curious as to how many bikes were stolen this week and why we should be more concerned about Felix than the other victims. Particularly when he seems fine trading his bike for an empty backpack, at 9 in the evening to a stranger he met on an anonymous site who called with a blocked phone number.

    In other news, it is best not to smash a hammer into your eyeball.

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  • felix April 29, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Steve

    Yeah, I am a trusting person which I forgot you really can’t be here in Portland with all the thief’s and tweakers. Lesson learned, I just want the bike back and the guy who stole it caught.

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  • bahueh April 29, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    BURR….lighten up, francis. it was a joke. your emotional reactions don’t serve you well there youngster…

    Felix…I’ll keep the eyes out. bike is fairly remarkable and would be easily noticed. any chance you had insurance? home or renters might cover it….

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  • John April 29, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Felix,

    Can you tell us whereabouts this happened? There’s no indication in the story or comments? It might help us keep an eye out if we happen to be in the area or even better, live near you. We don’t need your address. Maybe just a neighborhood or closest major intersection?

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  • felix April 29, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Happened in SE Portland near 20th and Hawthorn.

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  • Bjorn April 29, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    This is the third one of these test ride and grabs I have heard about this year, only one of the three bikes has been recovered so I think some paranoia by craigslist sellers is very justified.

    Bjorn

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  • BURR April 29, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    seems like it might not be too hard to set up a sting for this guy by offering something for sale on craigslist that matches the profile of the three bikes stolen so far.

    If he showed up on foot with the decoy backpack, my guess is that he might have a vehicle parked nearby that he rides to once he’s got yer bike.

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  • Jack April 29, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    The way felix was spamming the bike on craigslist, with multiple ads per day, I got the impression this young fellow maybe just got fed up and carried out some anti-spammer justice.

    Doesn’t quite excuse his actions though.

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  • David April 29, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    @#9 you clearly get suckered easily. It clearly was a flippant comment to start a ruckus.

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  • Donna April 29, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Great idea, BURR. It’s too bad that the Portland Police Bureau has no interest in running bike theft stings the way they do in other bike-friendly North American cities.

    I heard even Beaverton has had them.

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  • SkidMark April 29, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    Felix admins a certain local bike culture website, and therefore has a lot of friends looking out for it. You can’t fault him for the attention being paid to his stolen bike.

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  • BURR April 29, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    @ #16.

    “lighten up, francis. it was a joke.”

    if so, it was a pretty stupid joke.

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  • Pat April 30, 2009 at 9:08 am

    An id, CC or photo is not enough. I demand the full price up front in cash and tell them they’ll get a full refund if they bring the bike back without damaging it. Serious buyers have never had a problem with this.

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  • Jacob C April 30, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    That bike is already in pieces. I’ll stay alert.

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  • Tristan May 8, 2009 at 1:13 am

    That sucks. I sold one of my bikes on CL and I made the guy leave the keys to his car. Which he happily did.

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  • Rowan October 26, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Make having their picture taken a condition of the test ride. Bike is returned: pictures deleted. CU of face and full body. When person calls, state this is a condition up front. Don’t like it? Don’t show up. Agree to it, and “You agreed to it when I spoke to you” will be refrain if there’s an argument.

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