Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on May 25th, 2012 at 1:00 pm
Reader Matt G. emailed us a few days ago to share an interesting experience. Matt got his bike stolen back in January and, like a smart and responsible Portlander, he immediately reported it to the police and listed it on our Stolen Bike Listings. A few months passed, then he got an email from what he assumed was a Good Samaritan.
Now he suspects otherwise.
Here's more from Matt:
"This morning I was contacted by someone saying they may have found it and could I provide the serial number. I was surprised and a little excited that it could be mine and responded right away, giving them more details on the bike but informing them that sadly, I didn't have the serial number.
I didn't think too much of it initially, but later it crossed my mind that it could have been the thief checking to see if the bike could be traced and proven stolen. Since a lot of thieves sell on Craigslist it's always the first place a victim will look to see if their property is up for sale. So, I wonder if these thieves are now using the BikePortland Stolen Bike Listings to help them move their stolen bikes?
After that thought crossed my mind I did a bit of digging on the potential Good Samaritan/thief... and he has to be on first name terms with the police, seeing as his mugshot is all over the web for everything including theft, fraud, assault etc... I know that history doesn't mean this guy can't be a reformed man; but it set me off to where I am now. No response back from him as yet and I don't expect to get one at this point, I guess I'm suspicious by nature.
Long story short, I think the thief has contacted me and I'm wondering if you've heard of thieves using the listings to contact people they've stolen from before?"
I couldn't recall ever hearing about a thief contacting their victim, so I asked our resident bike theft expert Bryan Hance. Bryan said, "It happens from time to time." He even recalls people using such contact to steal their own bikes back from thieves. "But I don't recommend that," he added.
Bryan's suggestion if this happens to you is to contact the police right away. Hopefully you've got a pending case number on file. And hopefully, of course, you actually know your serial number.
That's a lesson Matt G. now knows all too well. "If it turns out what I think is true [that the guy who contacted him really is the thief], I don't see it as a slight on the stolen bikes listings at all... and really, I should have had that serial number written down."