Gravel - Cycle Oregon

Bike stolen in San Franciso 6 years ago appears in Portland, then vanishes again

Posted by on August 7th, 2012 at 10:32 pm

A beloved De Rosa was almost reunited with its owner.

A man from San Francisco is hoping Portlanders can help him find a bike he had stolen in 2006.

It’s a crazy story; but behind it is a guy who loves his bike and just wants to get it back.

Justin LaBo had his beloved De Rosa track bike stolen from a storage unit in San Francisco back in August of 2006. Fast forward to a few days ago and, miraculously, the bike turned up in northeast Portland. Here’s what happened according to Justin:

“Then, a few days ago, a random stranger on the San Francisco Fixed Gear message board sent me a craigslist link. It was a De Rosa, blue, same color as mine. It had the same nicks on that incredible Eddy Merckx decal. It was my bike. I emailed the seller in hopes of buying it back, but received no response. The ad has since been pulled, and the bike is gone, again.”

That was last night night.

Another friend of Justin’s relayed to me that there was a flurry of activity to try and meet the person who listed the bike on Craigslist. Friends in San Francisco found out the identity and contact information of the seller and coordinated with a friend in Portland to intercept the bike. “Unfortunately, we were seconds too late,” the friend shared via email tonight. “Subsequent attempts to contact the seller have failed.”

And just like that the bike has vanished once again.

To try and find it, Justin and his friends have put out a digital all-points-bulletin, hitting Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. They have also contacted the Portland Police Bureau, “But that’s slow going,” his friend tells me.

Keep your eyes peeled for this bike. Let’s try and make a happy ending to this sad saga.

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  • Joe Rowe August 7, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    Call and email craigslist staff. They will be more than happy to send the cops lots of information about the seller who posted the ad. The seller may not be the thief. Regardless, the seller has most likely sold other stuff on craigslist and the person who purchased the other stuff will know where the seller lives etc, etc. The cops can easily contact the buyers of other stuff from this seller.

    Even if the seller is the criminal and got a new email address for each bit of sold items, the seller most likely used the same browsers and same locations (ISPS) to post the ads on craigslist.

    This is a happy ending ready to happen.

    Beware criminals, try to sell stolen bike stuff on ebay or craigslist and be prepared to ruin your chances for jobs, friends, housing. Not to mention some jail time and fines.

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  • Jeff August 7, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    Craigslist might be the greatest marketplace for stolen products in the history of mankind.

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  • Spiffy August 7, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    it looks like KOIN is going to do a story on it…

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  • Mashugina August 8, 2012 at 1:43 am

    I believe the Justin in this story is Justin Labo, formerly of the band Film School. The first time I heard the Alwaysnever EP, well, it was like mana from shoegaze Heaven. I sincerely hope this talented musician gets his beloved de Rosa back.

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  • Bryan Hance August 8, 2012 at 9:15 am

    @jow rowe I would be surprised if Craigslist gives them anything but the standard “we only operate with the PD” line. Folks like you and me get no assistance when we call – at least, that has been my experience.

    CL is a freaking mess, and the lawsuit they have going against 3taps right now not only reinforces that, but I wonder if part of the reason they don’t want people scanning and storing their data is because over half of the goods in sections like Bikes, Tools etc. are all stolen.

    If CL actually had to deal with every person that came along and found their stolen stuff on CL they would grind to a halt. Instead, they have the company line: “We only talk to PD” – meaning by the time someone like you or I can get a police contact to call them the ad is already yanked or 5 days old.


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    • Dave August 8, 2012 at 9:32 am

      Look at it from CL’s perspective – if I posted something for sale and you honestly but mistakenly thought it was your stolen item, should they just hand over my personal information to you based on your hunch? If they did, and you then showed up on my doorstep and did something unpleasant, how do you think that would go over in court?

      Sites like craigslist have a responsibility to work with police in cases like this, and an equal responsibility to protect their users privacy in any other situation, regardless of how shady you or I may think they seem. If anything, the pressure has been on sites to avoid even turning those details over to law enforcement unless there’s a legal requirement, such as a search warrant or subpoena. Heck, even subpoena’s are suspect in light of the recent tactics or copyright trolls and pornography extortion rackets. Officer Barbrady just calling up during an investigation and asking politely for details isn’t going to cut it.

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      • Bryan Hance August 8, 2012 at 1:28 pm

        If I haven’t spoken to literally hundreds, possibly thousands of people who found their stolen bikes on CL I might see it this way too.

        However, their recent suit against 3taps (‘dont cache our data’) and their shutdown of the finetoothcog site a few years ago (same thing:don’t save our data) … that’s a pattern I can’t ignore. Even pawn shops have to follow a pretty strict set of rules re: info gathering and retention when it comes to item sales. CL accepts anonymous emails and burner phone numbers and by the time someone like you or me gets a cop on it, the thief is long gone. Their system is tipped too far in the thieves advantage.

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        • q`Tzal August 8, 2012 at 9:12 pm

          But that doesn’t mean that CL should release any user’s personal info to anyone for just any random reason.

          Hypothetical situation:
          Lets assume that a guy discovers a girl he desperately wants to meet up with
          One user pisses off another.
          It would be a non trivial matter to compare contact info or image storage accounts to locate other CL postings by the same person.
          Now I just pretend that I have been robbed, get the target’s home address and … well then bad things happen.

          Theft happens, it happened before CL and will happen after it has gone to dust.
          Does CL need more regulation: yes.
          Does your experience with CL stonewalling you, a private citizen, mean that none of us should have privacy so that a few people get back their stuff: NO!

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          • Bryan Hance August 9, 2012 at 9:20 am

            That hypothetical is a pretty bad one, and not the solution I would advocate to put in place. But thanks for the caps lock to really drive the point home 🙂

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  • esther c August 8, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Craigs list should not allow any bikes to be sold without a serial number being listed

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    • maxadders August 8, 2012 at 1:23 pm

      And how would one verify that the serial number typed into a web form is real? There are thousands of bike manufacturers working under different brand names, and certainly many brand past or current that don’t have complete serial number databases available. These records might not even exist. So someone could just type 8 or 10 random numbers in and call it done. Even if you’d take the extra step of requiring that the seller photograph the serial number, it would be hard to rely on the photographic abilities of people posting on CL– even advanced text recognition software wouldn’t work a fair amount of the time, and would ultimately turn posting on CL into a usability nightmare.

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  • Mercier531 August 8, 2012 at 10:07 am

    I had a recent experience where I called Portland police and got a quick response. The parts of my Yakima bike rack that were not locked to the car were stolen and I found them on CL. The officer who responded offered to go with me to retrieve my bike rack parts. He did say that they could use someone to just go after CL thieves.

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  • Sunny August 8, 2012 at 10:08 am

    See if you can get any metadata from the picture — like gps coordinates.

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  • She August 8, 2012 at 10:14 am

    I hope he gets this bike back, and for the rest of us… I recommend in this kind of situation you contact the police and strategize how best to contact the seller rather that making contact and driving seller away. And find out it the PD will help in any way.
    Seller may not be the thief however may not be clean otherwise so recovery may have been able to occur. I respect wanting to recover without involving the police but unfortunately it did not work.

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  • sabes August 8, 2012 at 10:33 am

    I work by the Eastbank building and I always see homeless people with obviously stolen bikes. There’s one guy who wheels them around on top of a grocery cart. What is one supposed to do?

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    • Editz August 8, 2012 at 11:36 am

      Be prepared to show the bike’s stamped serial number. If it’s been ground off and you can’t produce a sales receipt, you’re in possession of stolen property and/or a thief. Bike confiscated on the spot.

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      • sabes August 8, 2012 at 1:19 pm

        You misunderstand me. I’m not carrying around stolen bikes. I see people carrying around stolen bikes. Should I call the cops? Will they even care?

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  • Craig Harlow August 8, 2012 at 11:36 am

    What is the contact info for sharing information?

    I saw a blue De Rosa parked outside the NE Albina library yesterday at around 1pm, and when the young woman approached to unlock it I complimented her on her groovy old bike. It had pantographs at the tops of the seatstays, and I think it was built up differently than the photo above, as I don’t remember it looking like a track build. She said she thought it was an early 80’s vintage. She then complimented my 80’s beater Bridgestone city bike and rode off. I then crossed paths with her again a couple minutes later as I headed south on NE 14th ave and she was headed west on Klickitat.

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    • Sunny August 8, 2012 at 11:51 am

      I’m sometimes wary of suspicious people complimenting my bike while eyeing it carefully as they seem to be either a) a potential thief or b) an amateur detective trying to determine if I’m the rightful owner.

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    • Sunny August 8, 2012 at 11:56 am

      Also on returning compliments when receiving them: I’ve had numerous foks with junky bikes compliment my nicer bike and I’ve never been one to hide humorous truths by returning “that’s a great piece of crap you got there.” Chuckles all around.

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      • Sunny August 8, 2012 at 11:58 am


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    • Craig Harlow August 10, 2012 at 9:38 am

      Got the contact info: I posted a comment to the blog, and Justin called me.

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  • jim August 8, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Jonathon- dosen’t that look kind of like the bike you ride? Hey- didn’t you take a vacation in SF? Hmmm
    Seriously though, I’ve seen nice bikes at junk garage sales that I was guessing were stolen, what should I do besides not buy it?

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  • Craig Harlow August 9, 2012 at 10:27 am

    If Justin could post the frame serial number here, we could note it on our cell phones and have it handy should we come across a suspect bike.

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  • 9watts August 10, 2012 at 11:01 am

    So many people here love to hate Craigslist and ‘know’ how high the percentage of everything on there that is/was stolen. Hm.
    In my experience (and I’m not interested in and don’t look for anything bike related that was only recently new, is rare, or expensive) there are about as many kinds of sellers out in Craigsland as there are bikes or handle bar styles. I have no doubt that some things in the bicycle category on Craigslist are stolen but I’ve felt good about all the purchases I’ve made. Maybe the reason I have such an excellent selection to choose from is because you have scared other potential buyers away?

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