Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 19th, 2010 at 1:45 pm
"If the person looking to buy my bike from Goodwill hadn't checked your site, I would have never recovered it... Thanks!"
— A happily reunited bike owner
It's been a while since we mentioned our Stolen Bike Listings or shared a stolen bike recovery story. I used to keep track of every recovery, but after we had about 20 or so, I stopped counting and they didn't really seem like news anymore.
But just in the last few weeks, we've confirmed three recoveries. They made us feel so good that I thought it'd be fun to share the stories with you. Each one shows that a combination of serials numbers and Good Samaritans are sometimes all you need to get your bike back.
So here goes...
Mike gets his bike (and a new light!) back
A few days ago, Mike Burnett got an email from a woman claiming to have his stolen bike (a $900 Lemond Fillmore). She emailed Mike saying she had acquired his bike from a co-worker who was fired for theft, so she became suspicious of where it came from. When she searched the bike's serial number, Mike's stolen bike listing came up. From there, Mike and the woman got in touch.
"Sorry for your loss," the woman wrote via email, "I hope that I can help reunite you with your bike."
Here's what happened next (as shared with us via email from Mike):
"I wrote her back and told her that it was indeed my bike and offered her the original $100 reward I had intended. She called me back and she and her friend brought the bike over the same day. The bike was in great shape with all the same parts as when it was stolen. The only difference was it had a new front light installed by the thief!"
One of those "too good to be true" deals
The next story comes from a reader named Drew, who got his Trek 1.2 road bike stolen near SE 29th and Belmont on November 9th. When someone purchased the $800 bike for $175 at the Lloyd Center MAX station they thought the deal was too good to be true. When they got home and searched online for the serial number, Drew's stolen bike listing came up. Drew got a phone call from the Good Samaritan, gave him $175, and got his bike back.
"So the site really does work," Drew shared with us via email. "Thanks so much for all the effort y'all are putting into it."
Goodwill hunting by a Good Samaritan
Reader David M was shopping at the Goodwill bins on November 3rd and saw a Specialized Sirrus Sport "in perfect condition." When he asked one of the employees if the serial number had been checked prior to setting it out for sale, they said it had been; but when he went home and Googled the model name, our stolen bike listing popped up. "The serial number was different by one digit," David said, "so I phoned Goodwill, I emailed the bike owner, and last night I received the good news from the bike owner that she had received her bike back!"
We also heard from the bike's owner, Sarah Abbott. She said she never wrote down here serial number and the one given to her by the bike shop she bought it from was wrong, "leaving my police report useless" (also explaining why Goodwill didn't know it was stolen). Sarah says her bike (which retails for about $1,000) was stolen and then left on a TriMet bus and eventually given to Goodwill. "If the person looking to buy my bike from Goodwill hadn't checked your site, I would have never recovered it. Goodwill was kind enough to let me look at it and prove it was mine. In closing... Thanks!"
You're welcome Sarah!
At last count, we had about 2,556 stolen bikes listed on this site since I first launched the service back in September 2005 (there was a long hiatus when they were broken and no listings were taken). The key to their success has always been awareness of the listings themselves and then having people go the extra mile to help out a stranger.
Thanks to everyone in the community that keeps eyes peeled for stolen bikes and who takes the time to search online when something seems fishy. Also, a big thanks to Bryan Hance, the man who created the Stolen Bicycle Registry and who has helped us improve our listings and make them even more effective.