Bike theft roundup: Stolen SoupCycle, unscrewed staple, and a suspect seller

Posted by on December 20th, 2012 at 10:23 am

Thieves unscrewed this staple rack.

Got a few bike theft stories that deserve some attention so I figured I’d round them up.

We all know bike thieves are mean; but they are also getting increasingly clever. Marion Rice sent in a photo of the bike parking staple her daughter’s bike was parked to outside their daycare. The thief (or thieves) unscrewed the rack and took the bike. This isn’t a big surprise to us, as we’ve covered the unscrewing method in the past.

First, our friend Susan Otcenas shared the news of a particularly sad theft. Portlander Asta Chastain works as a SoupCycle employee, delivering meals by bike throughout the city. Her 1990s Specialized Hard Rock mountain bike (which happened to be photographed in a recent BikePortland story) was stolen while it was attached to her Soup Cycle trailer. Susan says Asta lots a lot of gear and tools with her bike, so this is a big loss. Check out this post for more information and keep your eyes peeled for her bike.

And finally, consider this next one a lesson on how to read — and be wary of — Craigslist postings. A reader sent a link to this sale post thinking that it looked very fishy. When I posted it to Twitter, most everyone agreed. Read it below and judge for yourself:

    Howdy everybody
    Happy holidays to all
    I have way too many bikes to list them individually so I apologize
    If u come to view/purchase u will understand
    I have road ,mountain, hybrids, tagalongs,tandems,trailers and more
    All big name brands- no cheap or junk bikes. Sorry no kids or bmx
    All bikes recently serviced/rebuilt ( I am a bike mechanic so you know u r getting quality)
    Very unusual collection – most bikes look new
    If u really need a bike don’t miss this. U need to call
    If you r just looky looing or low balling please don’t waste my time
    Cash only- bring it with u or u will NOT be allowed to view
    (sorry but this is due to all the looky loos)
    Please call323-327-8719 anyday 9 am-9pm
    This may be your chance to get a killer deal- don’t wait!

Be smart out their folks. Keep your wheels safe.

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  • patrickz December 20, 2012 at 10:55 am

    That does it: I’ll be paranoid and get a second Kryptonite. And the Soup Cycle story bums me out. Hope Asta gets her machine back. Bummer!

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  • Alan 1.0 December 20, 2012 at 10:57 am

    I don’t see Asta’s Hard Rock listed in http://www.stolenbicycleregistry.com yet. C’mon, victims, that’s probably your best chance to recover your bike. Take advantage of the great tool that Brian provides! And all those bikes in the flaky Craigslist add…if anyone checks out those bikes, run as many as you can through that site’s searches for serial number, country, state, city, zip code, or brand.

    For the staple racks, a drop of LocTite on the threads or a tack weld would make it harder for thieves, or a continuous steel plate across the bottom. Yeah, still subject to sawing or grinding through the staple or the plate, but that’s more time, noise and specialized tools to slow or deter a crook.

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    • bhance December 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm

      I don’t even see it listed in the BikePortland listings (which cross-list with the SBR listings) … :(

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  • Spiffy December 20, 2012 at 11:32 am

    the picture of the broken rack looks like the bolts are still in the ground, so I’m thinking that they used a power-cutter to take the heads off the bolts rather than unscrewing them…

    also, it’s not the standard city-rack blue, so was this a privately-owned staple like the one that’s in the linked story?

    another good reason to also lock through your wheel, you can’t ride it away if you only cut the object it’s locked to…

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    • Machu Picchu December 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      Just a guess, Spiffy, but I’d say those are studs set in the concrete, which had nuts on them. As opposed to bolts screwed into something with the heads cut off. Just from experience with bolting things to concrete, studs are typical.

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    • sm December 20, 2012 at 8:23 pm

      i work there. nothing was cut. it’s a psu rack.

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  • ws December 20, 2012 at 11:47 am

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Portland Police and bike advocates need to get proactive in fighting bike crimes before they happen.

    E.g., bait bikes and other sting operations. Meth heads will ruin this city. We need to stop being victims here. We’re getting trampled on.

    If I had more time, I’d just go rogue and set up bait bikes around town myself.

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    • Hugh Johnson December 20, 2012 at 9:27 pm

      It’s hard with an ineffective city government. Adams and Leonard finally leavings are a start.

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      • Natalie December 21, 2012 at 11:31 pm

        Or, and I say this as a dedicated cyclicst, there are bigger issues to set up sting operations on… it’s bike theft, for chrissakes, not the meth lab itself.

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        • ws December 22, 2012 at 12:58 pm

          This is a simplistic reply to crime and the forces behind crime. Criminals don’t stick to one crime. A murderer doesn’t just murder. A drug dealer doesn’t just deal drugs. An ID thief doesn’t just steal people’s IDs.

          Bikes are the currency of the street. Their trade and monetary fuels lots of crime in the city.

          NYC learned that addressing the small things had a profound impact on much larger crimes.

          Crime, like healthcare, needs to be holistic. Everything’s interconnected.


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  • Chris I December 20, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Wow, that Craigslist post is way off the sketch-meter. Anyone going for that has to know exactly what they are getting into.

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    • q`Tzal December 20, 2012 at 1:57 pm

      Like potentially getting mugged for the cash they insist that you show them before they’ll show you their ill gotten gains?

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  • Andrew K December 20, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Sounds to me like that craigslist ad is a prime opportunity for the police to do an undercover bust! If they need someone to volunteer as a potential buyer to take a look around I would be more than happy to. Heck, I’d even be willing to flash my own cash to get in the door.

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    • was carless December 21, 2012 at 9:17 am

      No way I would do that without a squad of Portland’s finest to back me up.

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  • Todd Boulanger December 20, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Please please please PBOT update your outdated and defective bike rack standards to provide a secondary level of protection when the few bolts are defeated:
    1) use only stable style racks with a cross bar (vs. open ended racks in use)
    2) squared tubing (vs. round tubing)
    3) 3 or 4 bolt flange mounts (vs. 2 bolt)
    *) in ground installation (vs. flange mount) – only as a last resort

    And Portland citizens / workers / shoppers…please do call PBoT to report any very old racks with only conventional nuts or bolts…so they can be welded closed or replaced. These tend to be the pre-blue racks.

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    • Todd Boulanger December 20, 2012 at 3:14 pm

      Spelling correction: staple (not stable) racks in my post.

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    • Alan 1.0 December 20, 2012 at 5:50 pm

      Todd Boulanger

      2) squared tubing (vs. round tubing)

      Why’s that? Isn’t wall thickness a bigger factor than shape as far as strength and cut resistance?

      *) in ground installation (vs. flange mount) – only as a last resort

      Again, why? Seems to me that cast-in-place in concrete would be less vulnerable to theft than bolted flanges. Some deformity to the part of the tube in the concrete (holes, protusions, ovalizing, etc.) makes it even stronger, but a foot of embedded steel doesn’t pull out at all easily.

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      • Opus the Poet December 21, 2012 at 2:26 pm

        Round tubing can be cut with a pipe cutter nearly silently, square tubing requires a saw that makes noise or requires obvious hand and arm movements to perform.

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        • Alan 1.0 December 21, 2012 at 8:02 pm

          Oh, that makes sense. How about the ‘in-ground only as a last resort?’

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    • Adam December 21, 2012 at 9:47 am

      I agree. PBOT are pretty good about responding to things like broken or defective or just wobbly bike racks. Give them a call, and they will generally try to send somebody from their maintenance department out to fix it!

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  • bud December 20, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    That could be a fake ad, have you called the number to verify he’s even selling bikes? Else you are just helping harrass the guy.

    Not too classy.

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    • Chris I December 21, 2012 at 8:36 am

      Helping to harass someone that put up a fake ad? Why would that matter?

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      • Schrauf December 21, 2012 at 11:58 am

        The idea is posting a fake ad that includes the phone number of another person you hope gets harrassed, who knows nothing of the posting.

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  • anon December 20, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Did a little googling of that phone number. The owner shows up on pdxmugshots.com, but no theft charges listed.

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    • Jim F December 21, 2012 at 7:32 am

      Apparently busted for trashing a McDonalds after he found onions on his burger. He doesn’t like onions.

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  • 9watts December 20, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    I’m going to offer a contrary perspective on that Craigslist ad.

    I’m not convinced he is hoping to sell stolen bikes. Craigslist sellers have all kinds of funny attitudes about who they wish to entertain. I may not like their tone or attitude but to me gruff wording of the ad doesn’t automatically suggests stolen merchandise. He could have stolen all those bikes, but he did provide a phone number which is a whole lot more info than many ads provide, and he’s offering service on your bike, so won’t mind if you hang around/come back. Unless you’re speculating that the phone is also stolen it isn’t that hard to look up the number using one of those reverse lookup services. Besides if he isn’t even listing individual bikes he can’t meet you at the 7-Eleven since you presumably need to look over what he’s got.

    I am well aware that a lot of people (here) are convinced that Craigslist is full of thieves, but I do a fair amount of business on CL and will say that in my experience the sketchy characters are few and far between. I’ve *very* rarely felt that a seller (of bikes or bike parts) was fencing anything. Let’s not let our imaginations run too wild here.

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    • Anthony December 20, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      Just a correction (but an important one in my opinion): The person isn’t offering to service the bike. They state that all the bikes are “recently serviced/rebuilt”. If they really was offering to service the bike before you rode it, and you could hang around while they did so, I would be less skeptical.

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    • Leif December 20, 2012 at 5:49 pm

      My grandpa in the ’90s had a backyard full of bikes, and cars/trucks. Definitely not a tweaker / bike theif. He would collect bikes from bike shops that they deemed not worth fixing, and fix them up himself, to fill up a schoolbus with and drive down to Belize to sell.

      A pile of said bikes in the upper-left corner of this pic:
      Though he had well over 100 bikes lying around.

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      • just joe December 21, 2012 at 9:57 pm

        Not the old “Bike King” on 136th and ?Rhone? .. ? That guy had some serious bikes.

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  • ws December 20, 2012 at 1:03 pm


    Oh wow, you really are naive. He has “too many bikes to list” and has an area code from Los Angeles. Nah, this is totally a legit posting.

    Even if I had 50 bikes to sell online, I’d list the brand of them and maybe a color. That’s not even difficult to do.

    I have to say, most people in Portland are street un-savvy.

    Personally, people should avoid CL all together when buying bikes.

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    • 9watts December 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm

      Thanks for your opinion.
      I know plenty of people (who aren’t thieves) with out of town/state area codes, and I also know folks (who aren’t thieves) who have collected lots of bikes they’re interested in selling. His choice of how terse to make his ad, what to leave off, is not even close to enough for me to indict him.

      Sure 80 bikes is a lot of bikes, but if I were so inclined I could fairly easily buy up that many bikes cheap on Craigslist for the purpose of fixing them up and reselling them at a (small) profit. I’m not suggesting I’d buy from him, or that there is no chance he has done what you and others suspect, but I see nothing in his ad that convinces me of it either.

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      • ws December 20, 2012 at 2:10 pm

        Well, thanks for your opinion too! At least my opinion lacks naivete.

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        • are December 21, 2012 at 7:32 pm

          what i lack in naivete i make up in cynicism

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          • 9watts December 21, 2012 at 7:36 pm

            Not to mention condescension.

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    • dr2chase December 23, 2012 at 6:43 pm

      Out-of-town area code is no longer a much of a red flag. Use a cell phone, move, keep your number, and there you go. I’m pretty sure that’s what’s going to happen to my kids, and if I ever move it will happen to me.

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  • Craig Harlow December 20, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Earlier (yesterday) version of the ad specifies “80 freshly tuned bikes”

    That phone number comes up related to scams going years back (link).

    He also spells out his phone number in different ways in postings under multiple craigslist categories (CB radios, RC toys), but Google treats them all the same…


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    • Craig Harlow December 20, 2012 at 1:30 pm

      I should have said “alleged scams”.

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    • bhance December 20, 2012 at 2:02 pm

      If the person selling these bikes is the same person pointed out in that radio-scam BB posting, it is the same person from this news story:

      “Oregon man throws soda, smashes cash register over onions on Mcdonald’s burger”


      Just sayin’.

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      • Paul December 20, 2012 at 5:27 pm

        Ha, I saw a guy throw his burger at the cashier in McDonald’s in Hollywood years ago. Over onions or pickles, can’t remember which.

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    • Craig Harlow December 20, 2012 at 2:17 pm

      CAUTION: If he IS the same guy mentioned in that CB radio story, BEWARE the Google results show multiple cases of him acting out violently, harassing, menacing, etc. I don’t think anybody should try to “sting” or otherwise confront or accuse him without the police being right there to back you up.

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  • Tim December 20, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Craigslist is a great way to see that your used stuff gets traded for something you need and goes to someone who needs it. Reduce-reuse-recycle.
    It is not that hard to spot a questionable deal. Too good to be true, selling it for a friend, or will not provide serial number, name and address. Remeber if you buy stolen stuff, you are also a criminal and a theif.

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    • 9watts December 20, 2012 at 1:49 pm

      “Remeber if you buy stolen stuff, you are also a criminal and a theif.”

      Can you elaborate? I have a hard time believing that.
      If intent matters so much in how people driving into or over others are prosecuted surely it is going to matter in a situation like you are describing. I could easily imagine that you’d end up forfeiting the merchandise if it was found to have been stolen, but you’re asserting a lot more than that.

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      • ws December 20, 2012 at 2:34 pm

        So if someone buys a stolen gun, or a gun through inappropriate means, it’s okay?

        It’s called being an “enabler.” Enablers allow behavior to occur. They are apart of the problem.

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        • 9watts December 20, 2012 at 2:47 pm

          Is everything black or white in your world?
          All I said was that it is conceivable that someone might buy a piece of stolen property and not know it (perhaps even have no way of knowing it), and that what Tim said could hardly apply in that case.
          Are you distinguishing between buying something from a thief and buying something from the person the thief sold/gave it to?

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          • ws December 20, 2012 at 3:42 pm

            No, the world isn’t black and white. Yeah, of course it might be legitimate. It also might not rain tomorrow, but I’m still going to bring a rain jacket with me.

            Something strongly tells me, and every other discerning person, that his cache of bikes might not be 100% his, either through people selling him stolen bikes, or the ad person stealing bikes himself.

            Just like that bike repair shop in downtown Portland that used to take in any bike off the street and resell it. This CL ad wreaks. Don’t be fooled by facades like “bike mechanic.”

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        • El Biciclero December 21, 2012 at 2:37 pm

          Well, guns are a bad example because their sale is regulated somewhat. I could illegally buy a gun from someone who was the legit owner. But if I buy a Hello Kitty ™ lunchbox from someone on CL, how would I ever know whether it was stolen or not?

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          • ws December 23, 2012 at 11:10 am

            …So are the selling of used bikes, that’s why I used guns as an example. A used bike store can’t just take in used bikes off the street and sell them immediately. There’s regulation of them to a degree.

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      • Skid December 20, 2012 at 4:23 pm

        The specific charge is receiving stolen property. And really if you buy (for instance) a Hufnagel for a couple hundred you are either completely clueless or you know something is fishy but you don’t care and are hoping not to get caught.

        You can get bikes very cheap at Police Auctions. You can buy them for 50 cents a pound from Community Cycling Center on Sundays. In this city you can dumpster them or ask around/place an ad and get them for free.

        Not everyone has awesome English writing skills or knows what every brand and model of bike is worth. Sometimes someone can have a gem and not know it, to them it is just an old bike. If you get a weird vibe from someone selling a cheap bike, run the serial number.

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    • Michael396 December 26, 2012 at 10:33 pm

      If you don’t have good title you can’t convey good title, so if you’re a buyer of stolen merchandise, knowingly or unknowingly you have no legal claim to it if you’re caught with it.

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  • bhance December 20, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Susan! Drop me a line, I have a spare specialized I would give ya.

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  • Al from PA December 21, 2012 at 1:35 am

    Craigslist is a great way to see that your stolen stuff gets traded for something a thief “needs” (money) and goes to someone who doesn’t need it.

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  • KW December 21, 2012 at 7:19 am

    Someone go and check his bikes out!!

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  • Adam December 21, 2012 at 9:52 am

    I like the bikeracks that are actually embedded in concrete, as opposed to screwed down.

    I think the best thing you can do, is make sure you lock not only the frame, but also through one (or heck, both) of your wheels when locking to the bikerack.

    If the thief does unscrew the rack, the smaller amount of wiggle space available with the lock due to it being locked around more things might result in there not being enough free maneuver-room to slide it off the end of the unbolted rack.

    Also, if you lock through the frame and wheel, even if the thief does manage to slide your bike off – it is still locked to itself – another deterrent of sorts.

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  • Duncan December 21, 2012 at 11:18 am

    First off I am sorry that Susan lost her bike.

    As to the CL seller- unless the person wants to go out there and actually look at some bikes and run some numbers, I think that psoting their personal info in relation to a crime for which the poster has exactly zero proof that they are connected to is pretty much BS.

    Either call the guy, run the numbers and call the cops or STFU.

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    • matt picio December 25, 2012 at 5:08 pm

      Susan didn’t lose one of her bikes, Asta did.

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  • Eric December 21, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    they need to increased the toughness of these racks. My idea is to fill them with wire rope. I was amazed by how fast I can cut through a 2″x1/4″ thick square steel tube when I was making something a while back. Round tubing does cut considerably faster, but I’m not sure I believe a tubing cutter is sufficient for that. All the cut racks I have seen pictures of have obviously been cut by a saw. Of course, your bike has to be worth more than $5 to someone because the blade I was using was shot after a couple of cuts.

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    • Duncan December 22, 2012 at 9:01 am

      Cordless 18v angle grinder with diamond wheel lasts longer.

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    • dr2chase December 23, 2012 at 7:00 pm

      Wire rope, plus a pebbly concrete aggregate. Bonus if you could get carbide for your pebbles, but that would cost too much.

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    • jim December 25, 2012 at 6:53 pm

      Fill them with gravel

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  • Dan December 21, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    Sooooo, was the staple rack screwed before?

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  • gutterbunny December 23, 2012 at 9:26 am

    No offense— but to call the CL guy a thief is kind of jumping to a pretty big conclusion. A little over a year ago I started fixing up bikes and reselling them mostly as a hobby and to fund upgrading and restoring my personal bikes. I love to wrench almost as much as I like to ride, and also learning the history of industry and the tool.

    Once word gets out that you’ve taken this hobby up to even just a few people, they start giving you their bikes when they’re cleaning out the garage, storage unit, or like one of my neighbors who has a number of rental units abandoned bikes left behind.

    I currently got about 10 bikes in my garage in various states of repair and I’ve only paid (very little) for perhaps 3 or 4. The others were donated by neighbors and friends who I know didn’t steal them. And I could easily have had many more, but I kind of specialize in bike boom bikes and bar cruisers. So unless it’s something I can sell quickly without much work I pass on MT bikes and big box bikes.

    And of course for every sale I make, those people may very well come back to give or cheaply sell a bike to me knowing I’ll fix it up and put it under someones butt rather than letting it land in the scrap yard.

    I think it’s important for many of you to remember that most bikes are bought, then seldom ridden. They are then just in the way for most people once they’ve lost the “the bug”. It’s not hard to find exceptionally cheap bikes or even free bikes. The vast majority of them aren’t stolen just neglected.

    Of course I do keep an eye out on the stolen lists, and I also check on any bike I might buy at yard sales and over CL. But I’ve yet to ever find a reported bike or even encounter anyone suspicious.

    If I have one major complaint about this blog/site. It’s that many here are too quick to judge a “thief” when there is not a single bit of evidence that they are. Acting weird and bike hording doesn’t make a thief, stealing does.

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    • 9watts December 23, 2012 at 9:50 am

      If I have one major complaint about this blog/site. It’s that many here are too quick to judge a “thief” when there is not a single bit of evidence that they are. Acting weird and bike hording doesn’t make a thief, stealing does.
      Beautifully said, gutterbunny. Thanks.

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  • Nathan Gibson December 23, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    I don’t kn ow if anyone else posted this already but that phone number belongs to the crazy “mcfury” guy. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/26/jayme-john-leon-mcfury-onion_n_1914789.html

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  • Nathan Gibson December 23, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    NM someone obviously beat me to it.

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  • jim December 25, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    There are security bolts that has a 2 part head on it, the outside head snaps off at a certain torque and the remaining part of the bolt is difficult to unscrew.

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  • Adron Hall January 7, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Andrew K
    Sounds to me like that craigslist ad is a prime opportunity for the police to do an undercover bust! If they need someone to volunteer as a potential buyer to take a look around I would be more than happy to. Heck, I’d even be willing to flash my own cash to get in the door.
    Recommended 8

    Ditto, I’d be happy to volunteer for this type of thing. But then of course, it’d probably better for all society if we started resolving some of these problems at the root, like fixing the parents/family/shit situation these idiots that become thieves are raised in. But either way, I’d volunteer to help where I could.

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  • Jay August 12, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    Hi, I know this is an old post but found this through a craigslist ad today regarding a possible craigslist scammer. This # looked familiar so I searched it in my e-mail box and it turns out I did get an e-mail from someone with the phone # listed in the ad. His name is Jayme Leon. He tried to lowball me for my bike a year ago and offered me lots of random things to trade. Just wanted to share!

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