Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Bike thief wants job, gets arrested instead

Posted by on February 24th, 2006 at 10:08 am

I can’t get enough of stolen bike recovery stories. This one, involving a bike recently listed here, is one of the best I’ve ever heard.

On Monday a reader named “jeffcycles” got his beloved Eddy Merckx stolen from the PSU campus. He quickly spread the word and told everyone he knew to keep an eye out for it.

A few days later the thief walked into a local restaurant with the bike in tow, wanting to apply for a job. The hostess at the restaurant was a cyclist and could tell that something was fishy with the bike. She could tell it didn’t quite fit with the guy so she asked him a few questions about it. Not satisfied with his responses she got on the phone and called her friend, who happens to be a bike shop mechanic and member of the PSU Cycling Club.

As luck would have it, jeffcycles had already told this exact same mechanic about his bike being stolen. Sure enough, the mechanic was able to confirm with the hostess that the bike in her restaurant was indeed the same bike jeffcycles had just told him about.

Playing it cool, the hostess let the thief continue with the application process. She must have held back a smile as she watched the thief write out a personal check to pay for his background check.

After leaving behind a personal check and a completely filled out application, the thief went about his day. The hostess called the cops and they found the bike locked up on the thief’s porch. The thief was arrested for possession of stolen property and jeffcycles has his beloved Merckx back!

This story speaks to the power of community awareness. It’s easy: the more we keep an eye out for stolen bikes, the more of them we’ll recover. Check out this recent post for a few more recovery stories.

So far this month I’ve had 20 bikes listed and two of them have been recovered. I’m working on expanding my Stolen Bike Listings. One of the exciting features will be a weekly email digest of stolen bikes that will be automatically sent to every shop in town. This printer-friendly email will then be posted on shop bulletin boards and in service areas so employees can keep an eye out. Stay tuned for developments…

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  • Austin February 24, 2006 at 10:26 am

    What a perfect story! I would suggest that jeffcycles option the movie rights to Disney/Pixar.

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  • Donna Tocci February 24, 2006 at 10:28 am

    Priceless story! Score one for Portland’s tight knit cycling community! Great job everyone!

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  • Dabby February 24, 2006 at 10:41 am

    Once again, a great job for paying attention, and being on the ball people.
    And to Ian, a great job for helping out….
    Yesterday, I bent my seatpost, and after replacing it, discovered I bent my seat too.
    I have many seats at home, and none downtown.
    Knowing I wasn’t going to be able to buy a flite saddle at the moment, Ian helped me out, instantaneously.
    I am going to pick something nice out of my bag o’ parts this morning, take it down, and donate it to the PSU coop bike shop….

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  • […] The positive effects of a stolen bike registry. Whay to go BikePortland   […]

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  • Peter W February 24, 2006 at 11:47 am

    The link to the PSU Cycling Club should be http://www.cycling.groups.pdx.edu . Those co-op mechanics all rock, as well as Portland’s biking restaurant hostesses. Way to go everyone!

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  • Anonymous February 24, 2006 at 12:46 pm

    i needed a little lovin’ to get me through my day today and that little story just provided it. awww shucks; ain’t p-town great?

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  • Dan February 24, 2006 at 4:26 pm


    Props to you, for providing such a great forum for Stumptown’s (don’t sue me, Specialized) to look out for each other! Thanks man.

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  • ringer February 24, 2006 at 8:43 pm

    Way to go. I love it, just play it cool.”And whats Fonzzy like?”

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  • Justa February 25, 2006 at 12:31 am

    rad rad rad

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  • Wide Eyes February 25, 2006 at 9:40 am

    I’m glad jeffcycles got his bike back, and really glad that Portland’s bike community is looking out for each other, but I have to feel just a little bit bad for the thief. He was riding the bike, rather than selling it, and he was looking for work, so he must have been desperate for wheels. In addition to punishing him for stealing someone else’s beloved bike, maybe the Community Cycling Center or some other group could hook him up with a bike of his own?

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  • ringer February 25, 2006 at 4:58 pm

    Wha??? He a theif. He had it on a trailer. I don’t care if you need money, I paid for my bike. He deserves nothing but a good punch to the face and a couple kicks to the side, from many.

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  • Tbird February 25, 2006 at 5:11 pm

    I think it’s great the Merckx was returned to it’s rightful owner, but I am a bit surprised that some one would need a background check to work in a resturant…Way to go BikePortland.org!

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  • Well... February 25, 2006 at 5:25 pm

    If I were desperate for wheels I’d get a bike from the goodwill for $10. I got 2 specialized’s for $10 one time, just needed air in the tires. and a mediocre hardtail for $30 that I put over 275 miles on with no repairs needed. I also know many people that get cheap bikes at http://www.propertyroom.com no need to steal.

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  • notcool February 25, 2006 at 5:30 pm

    bittersweet story…the guy was trying to get a legitimate job, screwed up in the mean-time, and now he’ll have extra difficulty getting a job in the future…making him even more likely to turn back to crime (and maybe he’ll be more careful about the next bike…)

    You have to admit, bike thiefs suck, but our system does the polar opposite of encouraging rehabilitation.

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  • andrew morton February 25, 2006 at 8:18 pm

    are you people fucking kidding? you’re going to worry about the bike theif? that guy needs a kick in the nuts. i hope you’ll be this concerned when your bike gets stolen. heck, maybe you should just leave you bike unlocked and help out someone who’s down on their luck. i bet they’d really appreciate it.

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  • […] Busting a bike thief. […]

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  • Hugo February 26, 2006 at 11:48 am

    Yeah, it sucks for the “poor” bike thief. It’s SUPPOSED to suck when you steal someone else’s stuff. It is supposed to be reeeeeally bad for your future. That is what you call a deterrent. That is what is needed to discourage some people from doing bad things. Sure, on a certain level it sucks that some 19 year-old kid will now have a record. But he made that decision.
    Sorry dude, if it’s not yours, it’s not yours. Really it’s that simple. If you’re “down on your luck,” try walking into the CCC and asking for advice. Maybe you’ll make a friend and maybe you’ll get a $10 bike from Goodwill. That might generate the positive energy which is so obviously missing in your life.

    Give the guy a bike??? Are you kidding? How about making him walk everywhere for 6 months. Give him some sympathy for what people have to do when someone steals their bike. How about making him work to replace the bikes for 10 people who had their bikes stolen.

    Wide Eyes, I would think that if the CCC were going to “hook up” anyone with a bike, it would be most appropriate to hook up victims of bike theft.

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  • Fritz February 27, 2006 at 10:05 am


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  • notcool March 3, 2006 at 11:05 pm

    I think we should rework our system so it doesn’t encourage high-risk people who are more likely to commit a crime to become career criminals. Once that happens, the rest of us pay either way: 1) to keep them in jail or 2) when they keep stealing our stuff.

    “Deterrents alone” is bullshit, and we have centuries of evidence that prove the stick backfires without the carrot. Kind of an asinine concept of justice, but apparently it’s a pill the public is still swallowing…

    So, yeah, let’s keep hooking up people with their stolen property, but what’s so f’ing wrong with wanting to reduce the theft rate in the first place?

    And one last word: don’t assume he’s got a “bike thief” gene in him or something if you know absolutely-fucking-nothing about him and his background.

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  • Hugo March 10, 2006 at 11:39 pm

    High risk? What does that mean? A white PSU student? Because that’s who we’re talking about. If you mean black, say black, if you mean poor, say poor, if you mean drug addled, say it, if you mean never had a break in the world and really needs a hand, say it. It would help if you actually had the courage to say something remotely controversial. We might actually start getting somewhere. But no, you want to project your own idea of a foe onto other people.

    Who said anything about;

    ‘Deterrents alone’ ?

    or ‘“bike thief” gene.’ ?

    And no one said there was anything wrong with reducing the theft rate in the first place.

    I think you are arguing with someone who never showed up in the first place.

    I tell you what, I worked with someone today who had to pay for a new bike because hers was stolen. She was so sad, it freakin broke my heart. I have a lot of sympathy to go around in this world, but you know, it is still finite. And when someone steals a bike, they are stealing from the wrong freaking people. They are stealing from those who need those bikes to get around, go to school, go to their JOB. Wanna burn a freakin bulldozer? Go ahead. Wanna steal an iPod, boo freakin hoo. But if I ever catch someone stealing a bike, I will rip their freakin fingers from their hands, get back on my bike, go home, and eat my peanut butter toast without a regret in the world.

    Maybe there’s a reason they hung horse thieves.

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  • josh m March 11, 2006 at 7:56 am

    “Maybe there’s a reason they hung horse thieves.”

    They still can in most places, I believe.

    We should update it for bikes.

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  • Ethan March 12, 2006 at 12:19 pm


    Try rereading the other posts. Deterrents, aka punishments, are the only things that were being discussed.

    “High risk” doesn’t predict race, asshole. There is a correlation b/c the white racists establishment has kept black people locked away in ghettos w/o access to the establishment resources and networks other people have (read “american apartheid”). I mean people who don’t get any breaks in life, or who go through events that send them down the wrong paths. I’m sure ripping someone’s fingers off will help lower the crime rate. Nice suggestion.

    Lastly, there’s a difference between “controversial” and “stupid.” What I wrote was controversial, obviously, becuase it pissed you off. What you said was stupid because it is obviously, judging by your reaction, untrue, and also inherently hypocritical for another reason: you were just going with the flow on these posts…rehashing everyone else’s tired rants. That’s pretty uncontroversial, Mr. Yes Man.

    I understand the emotionality. The stress, the money loss, the overal life disruption…theft of tools we use everyday sucks. But that’s all the more reason that we need to react a bit more rationally rather than “kill the bike thiefs.” While you’re add it, why don’t you use that reasoning for the drug problem: kill all the drug addicts and we won’t have social drug problems ever again, right? Right? How are you going to back away from those assertions? “I didn’t really mean it” “Well don’t take “hanging” literally!” or some other crap? Just admit that you’re really emotionally affected right now…happens to all of us. But don’t for a second think you can think through the problem successfully in that state of mind.

    Problems like these require coherent social responses, not individual mob tactics.

    I’m done if you’re only going to respond w/more high-strung emoting.

    btw, I am “notcool”–just using my real name since now I am posting about controversial issues.

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  • Hugo March 12, 2006 at 10:16 pm

    I never said anything about high risk predicting race. Again arguing with a foe who is not actually there.

    “judging by your reaction, untrue, and also inherently hypocritical for another reason”

    Okay. Teach me. Explain to me what your quote means. I’m not fighting you on this one. Obviously you are intelligent. Please explain your quote to me. Seriously. I want to understand what you are saying. I gain nothing by calling you a name. Yeah, obviously ripping someone’s fingers off is emotional. Congrats on catching that. Perhaps it’s even metaphorical.

    And don’t even get me started on why my logic does not apply to drugs.

    A yes man? Yea, sure man. You know me.

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  • tom March 28, 2006 at 5:15 pm

    mad props to bikeportland.org for helping the situation. good job!

    maybe you guys need one of those systems where everyone rides bikes, you know, where they’re all the same? you drop the one you rode in at the door, and take another home. they could all be sweet EM fixies!

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  • Dr. Mark Ross May 10, 2006 at 6:04 pm

    (off topic a bit)

    I am wondering why the job applicant needs to write a check in the first place? shouldn’t the restaurant be responsible for covering the cost of the background check, NOT the job applicants? This raises a red flag on an otherwise great story.

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  • Baconbiter June 5, 2008 at 12:49 am

    \”but I have to feel just a little bit bad for the thief. He was riding the bike, rather than selling it, and he was looking for work, so he must have been desperate for wheels. In addition to punishing him for stealing someone else\’s beloved bike, maybe the Community Cycling Center or some other group could hook him up with a bike of his own?\”
    Are you fucking kidding me?! I don\’t give a fuck if the thief was desperate. The person whom he stole the bike from might not have had ANY transportation if his bike was his only means of transportation. The person who\’s bike was stolen could have been JUST as desperate as the thief. (Did you think about that?) But the thief didn\’t know anything about the bike\’s owner. He didn\’t care. All he cared about was getting what HE needed. \”Fuck the original owner. Fuck him if he can\’t look for jobs. Fuck him if he\’s sad and hurt that someone stole his bike. Now, *I* can look for a job.\” And now the thief\’s in trouble. That\’s what he gets for being a thieving, selfish dick.Tough shit.
    If you are desperate, ride the fucking bus, carpool, BORROW someone else\’s bike, walk, etc. You don\’t take things from other people no matter HOW desperate you are. End of story. The thief would NOT like it if someone broke into his house and stole his shit. He\’d be pissed off and hurt. You treat people the way you want to be treated. It\’s a simple fucking rule, but the thief somehow missed it and now it\’s come back to bite him in his stupid ass. Hopefully in the future, he\’ll follow the simple fucking rule that\’s holding every society on the planet together. (Thievery does not help a society at all. That\’s why thieves are punished.)
    I\’m glad the fucker is getting punished. Fuck the \”poor thief\” shit. He actually had a chance to tell the hostess that he\’d stolen the bike (!), but he decided to continue being an asshole. No free bike. Fuck that shit! He could have tried to get a free bike before stealing one. I\’m sure if he told the community that he was desperate, they might have helped him. Hell, SOMEONE MIGHT HAVE LET HIM BORROW A FUCKING BIKE AND THEN GIVE HIM AN ACTUAL FREE BIKE LATER. I don\’t feel sorry for the fucker one bit and I don\’t understand how you can. (I guess I feel sorry that jail is going to be a bitch and it\’s going to be even harder to get a job after going to jail…but he should have thought about that before he stole the damn bike) He can get his damn bike (paid for, not free) when he gets out of jail. Fuck. Now that I think about it, HE MIGHT HAVE BEEN ABLE TO GET A BIKE FROM A FUCKING YARD SALE FOR AN EXTREMELY LOW PRICE. Jesus.
    I\’m not a violent person, but had I met the person who stole MY bike (If I\’m riding a bike, it\’s fucking important that I have it), I\’d slap the shit out of him. He needs a wake up call. Maybe a good smack to the face will dissuade him from stealing again.

    notcool, so we should just give the bike thief a slap on the wrist? No, you go to prison and you learn what happens when you do bad shit (Something you should know before you do bad shit). Yes, it\’s harder to get a job when you get out of prison. Why? Because you don\’t trust anyone who has done bad shit and everyone knows you are not supposed to do bad shit. But some ex-prisoners get jobs still. The prison system isn\’t perfect, but please don\’t act like it\’s fucking evil. We need prison to stop people from doing bad shit and teach them that if they do bad shit they get punished. Use your brain. He might steal again. He might not. Hopefully not. However, his prison time should make him think twice. The more times you go to jail, the less people trust you. Even if you are broke, you don\’t steal. Holy shit.

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