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Positive Spin: Wheels stolen, faith restored

Posted by on January 20th, 2012 at 1:43 pm

“I was totally shocked and amazed that they were willing to do this, and had the heart to help a complete stranger out.”
— Camille Hook

When 30 year old Concordia neighborhood resident Camille Hook got her high-end, custom wheels stolen off her bike earlier this month, she didn’t think she’d ever get them back. She didn’t. What she got was something much better.

Camille loves riding her bike. She tells us she’s raced and ridden it all over Portland for years and that it has led her to good friends and amazing experiences, so you can imagine how she felt when she came out of work and both her wheels had been taken.

“Everyone has had something taken from them at some point,” she wrote via email, “and it really, really sucks.”

Camille and her wheels.
(Photo: Jude Kirstein)

Even though she’s well aware of all the bike theft in town, it was much different when it happened to her. “You never feel prepared for that moment of a very naked and sad looking bike frame that had your favorite wheelset on it.”

Fortunately, Hook quickly reported it to the police, to the OBRA email list, and posted them on our Stolen Bike Listings. While she got a lot of supportive words from friends, she recalled that, “I did not expect to see them again… I figured it was my time as I hadn’t ever had any of my bike equipment stolen.”

But then the power of what Hook calls “the extended family in the cycling community” kicked in.

Paul Guebara, marketing director of rim maker DT Swiss read Camille’s listing and he wanted to help. He contacted friends at Continental Tires (who’s tech rep Matt Slaven lives in North Portland) and local wheel maker Sugar Wheel Works. They’d hatched a plan to get Camille rolling again with a new set of wheels.

Camille couldn’t believe it:

“I was totally shocked and amazed that they were willing to do this, and had the heart to help a complete stranger out. It reiterated to me that there really was an extended family in the cycling community. It was very heart warming and awesome. I feel very lucky, and thank them for reaching out.”

This is what I love about the bike world; it’s absolutely brimming with many, many really good people.

Camille is back on her bike and says she’s now a lifelong customer of the companies that helped her out.

Way to go team!

— Have a great story for Positive Spin? Drop us a line. Read past editions here.

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  • Scott January 20, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    So are these companies starting a stolen parts replacement program?

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  • John January 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    That’s a great story, and kudos to those companies for stepping up…

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  • mh January 20, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Just had a wheel built around a dynamo hub, and am counting on the fact that it’s an obsolete size to keep it from being stolen. Are the local thieves attentive to such things?

    Really nice to hear about the generosity and community.


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    • Spiffy January 23, 2012 at 9:00 am

      I would assume they would just see a cool hub and not even bother looking at the size until they were well on their way with it…

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    • Pete January 23, 2012 at 8:56 pm

      Depends… can it be melted down for drug money? If so, locking skewers may be worth their price.

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  • NW Biker January 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Great story! It’s nice to see something good happen like this. I’ve had stuff stolen (fortunately, not bike stuff), and it’s a jarring experience.

    Thanks for a good story on a rainy Friday!

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  • DennisH January 20, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    I use Pitlock Skewers on my dyno wheel to try to keep it on my bike – see the Peter White link for more info

    Good karma out of a bad situation

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  • JA January 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Just had a wheel built around a dynamo hub, and am counting on the fact that it’s an obsolete size to keep it from being stolen. Are the local thieves attentive to such things?
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    In general, no. The majority of thieves will steal anything that looks expensive and/or easy to get away with. Most of them are just hoping to sell whatever they get quickly and be one step closer to their next dose of their chemical of choice.

    In a bike-heavy town like Portland you might have the occasional theft by somebody educated about parts who gets sticky fingers looking at a desirable part (or bike) on the street, but they are not going to be common enough to base your anti-theft strategy on.

    Meth-heads will steal ANYTHING they think they can get a couple bucks for. But they’ll usually only grab things they can get with only a few seconds of work. Stuff laying in a car in plain view, completely un-secured parts and lights, etc. In my experience even the filmiest of cables is enough to keep a thief from bothering with your seat and wheels. They’d much rather take the unsecured ones from the next bike down the street…

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  • Nick January 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Having experienced theft, I wonder how one proves ownership of a wheelset like that. While pink Chris King hubs certainly stand out, they aren’t unique. I’ve heard of people getting their driver’s license number engraved on their rims. Has anyone here done something like that?

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    • Jacob January 20, 2012 at 4:42 pm

      At the last shop I worked at, I had a customer that laser engraved every part possible with his DL number and phone number.

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  • Gabriel Amadeus January 20, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    That’s crazy! I just had my wheelset stolen too. It was a really, really nice wheelset. My mailing address is 1035 NE Skidmore St…

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  • Bradford January 21, 2012 at 8:47 am

    O.k first things first….i’m sorry she got her favorite wheelset stolen that sucks, thievery sucks to the town square! Your commuter bike prolly shouldn’t have an eight hundred and some odd dollar “pretty” wheelset even though you live in portlandia. Kudo’s to the people with the means to help Camille out. Now this is where Camille has to do her part in order to give her new wheelset the opportunity to provide her with thousands of smiles. It’s pretty unpractical to secure all three reliably front, frame, rear(cable locks, shmable locks) so do what makes sense for you. I put my u around the chainstays and through the rear wheel and you can do this most places around Portland with the next size up from the mini u. Alrighty then cheers!

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    • maxadders January 21, 2012 at 1:20 pm

      Yep! Flashy high-end parts are just asking to be stolen. I’ve sunk less than $100 into my entire commuter bike, and even then I know better than to leave it unattended without at least securing the wheels.

      Really, nobody needs Chris King / DT Swiss / Mavic / whatever to get you from point A to point B in this town. The best beater bike is one you won’t miss. Leave the high-end racing components at home on your race bikes (that you never race).

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  • Eric January 21, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    You’re darn right! No one should have that kind of bling on their commuter!

    Oh wait, I have King/DT Swiss wheels on my commuter. I guess I deserve to have them stolen.

    C’mon, she or anyone can have whatever they want on their bike. Whether they race it or not. And yes, my cross bike and my *gasp* high-end road bike have King hubs.

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    • maxadders January 22, 2012 at 4:13 pm

      Who said anything “deserves” to be stolen? I’m just saying I’m not surprised that it happened.

      I’m guilty of spending too much on bike parts too, sure. But you’ve got to admit that some of the allure of King and Phil and all that is to prove to others that you’re “serious” about cycling. I’m not saying they’re identical to a poorly made budget hub from a Wal-Mart bike, but at the end of the day you’re going to get the same number of miles out of a Deore as you will a Phil, provided that you take care of it. And it’s a lot easier to get over the loss of a boring mid-grade Shimano wheelset than some high-end set that begs you to rail of a list of its charateristics: sealed-bearing, handmade, brandname brandname brandname. Not that it *should* be any harder; in the end, stuff is stuff. Aye, materialism.

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  • Zaphod January 22, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    The attitude that only the cheapest possible solution that functions is the best or only acceptable choice really hurts my head. Perhaps rolling crabon fiber wheels is a bit excessive but nicely made handbuilt wheels are really a joy to spin on. My wheels have either been built by me or, now that I’m so busy, by our friends at Sugar Wheelworks. I hate to admit it but… she does a better job than me.

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  • Doug Morgan January 23, 2012 at 5:31 am

    My commuter bike is an old Giant Nutra I rescued from the Sale Barn. $25 for a pretty nice welded cromo frame flatbar cross bike 700 wheels. It gets ridden quite a lot and performs surprisingly well even compared to my trek 2300 or 5200. I wouldn’t ride Cycle Oregon on it but nobody said I couldn’t, (please don’t I might take it as a challenge). All a bike really needs is to be ridden. I just like not having worry about it when I’m at work.

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