Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Shop owner does the right thing and recovers a stolen bike

Posted by on February 19th, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Jennifer and her Linus re-united.
(Photo: Jennifer Cree)

We have a long tradition of sharing bike theft recovery stories here on BikePortland. While we’ve seen just about everything from police chases to citizen stings, one of the most common ways bikes come back is through the diligence and courtesy of well-meaning bike shop employees. In fact, one of our first-ever reported recoveries — in March 2006 — was thanks to quick-thinking shop employees.

Earlier this month, Portland resident Jennifer Cree got her beloved bike stolen, then got it back a few days later. And

Below, she shares the story in her own words:

On Wednesday February 6th I rode my Linus to work off of 25th and East Burnside. I was running a little late and placed my bike on the bike rack next to the building, removed the bags from the rack and ran into work. I never locked it. After 10 hours of work I realized my lock was in one of the bags and also realized my bike was probably gone. I went out to check and it was gone. Bummer. That night I made a Craigslist add and went on BikePortland to register my stolen bike.

On Saturday February 8th I got an email from Dave Wingard the owner of BackPedal Cycleworks (7126 SE Harold St). He said he was pretty sure he had my bike. Someone came in to sell it and he told the seller he would need to hold the bike for a couple of days and check to make sure it wasn’t stolen. The guy left the bike and Dave checked the stolen bike registry. Sure enough the bike was mine. I emailed him a copy of the receipt and was able to pick up the bike! In the Craigslist add I offered a $50 reward, which I gave to BackPedal Cycleworks… what an awesome guy and shop!

Jennifer and Dave are great examples because they each came through with actions that made this recovery possible.

Jennifer immediately listed her bike on BikePortland and Craigslist, and she also had proof that she owned it. Dave was smart enough to comply with Portland’s secondhand merchandise laws to hold the bike before reselling it and then went the extra mile in checking our listings to see if it was recently listed.

There are a million different ways a recovery can go down. I love when they’re clean and neat like this one.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Dmitriy Zasyatkin February 19, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    That’s great to hear a happy ending. Do you think its worth it to pay to register your bike with the “National Bike Registry” before it gets stolen?

    Also, what registries should you check when you’re buying a bike from a private owner?

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  • wsbob February 19, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Great that Jennifer got that beautiful mixte back.

    Can’t help but wonder if the would be seller, having brought in to sell a bike that was taken without permission, possibly stolen, may be having an interview with the pd arranged for him.

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    • middle of the road guy February 19, 2013 at 4:03 pm

      You mean the bike that looked to be abandoned because it was not locked up?

      Could be that the person who took the bike thought it already had been stolen (and dropped). Does it make it right? No. But I would have had much more sympathy if the bike had been locked in the first place.

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      • wsbob February 19, 2013 at 5:33 pm

        I suppose if someone had noticed the bike sitting there where they had been watching it unlocked for 8 or 9 hrs, they might have had some legitimate reason to think it could be an abandoned bike. Maybe.

        If true though, and the observer wanted to take it upon themselves to claim the bike as a finder, or rescue it with the hope of locating the owner, the first thing to do after securing the bike, would have been to do what Dave Wingard at Backpedal Cycleworks did: for 2-3 weeks, check craigslist, and bikeportland’s stolen bike notices posted by people seeking the return of their stolen bike. Finder could also post a notice of a bike found.

        That failing, or as an option: turn it over to the police.

        It’s kind of a miracle this bike ever got back to back to its owner. I get the sense that the person bringing the Linus into the shop to sell wasn’t particularly a thief, or at least not a savvy thief…but hard to say. Depending on the circumstances, might not be a bad idea for the police to have a little meetup with him, if he left contact info.

        I understand about doing things like forgetting to lock up the bike. People get busy, have lots on their mind, concentration goes out the window sometimes.

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        • wsbob February 19, 2013 at 5:53 pm

          I didn’t proof-read very well. The story suggests Wingard told the seller he’d have to hold the bike 2-3 days time to see if the bike came up on stolen bike listings. I was thinking if the seller chose to post found bike notices himself, doing so for 2-3 weeks, maybe longer actually, might be a good idea.

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      • are February 19, 2013 at 10:00 pm

        i see a lot of inadequately secured bikes all over this town every day, and i expect some of them to get stolen, but i do not assume each of them is abandoned. is it okay to just take everything that is not nailed down? are you saying you yourself would have felt okay taking this bike?

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  • o/o February 19, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Great to hear that she got it back. Hats to Backpedal guys.

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  • Mike P. February 19, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Jonathan, could you give us a quick run-down on “Portland’s secondhand merchandise laws”? We’re having trouble with bike thefts here in Ashland and it’d be nice to pass along any info to our Police Dept. Thanks.

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  • Dave February 19, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    If it wasn’t for the awesome resource the stolen bike registry is, Jennifer and her beloved bike may have never reunited. I know I for one depend on this site to steal back stolen property. I’ve found 3 stolen bikes in the last 2 yrs this way. If your bike is stolen, do list it. It’s worth the few minutes to post it.

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  • K'Tesh February 19, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Had a stolen bike recovered by the crew at Ashland Cycle Sport (Ashland, Oregon).

    Locked the bike outside with a cable (back in the 90’s) went to bed. Woke up in the morning, found the bike missing, and the cable had been cut and left where it fell.

    Called, made a police report, then called every LBS in Jackson County (remember, this is LONG before Craigslist).

    A couple of days later, I get a call on my message machine from Cycle Sport, informing me that they thought someone was going to bring the bike in to them. They also informed me that the cops were notified, and I should hurry down to the shop to claim my bike.

    I hustled down there, and by the time I got there, my bike had been recovered. Turns out that Robert Roy Pridy (just busted again here in Portland a week ago)… Stole my bike, and gave it to a friend in payment for a debt. He didn’t tell the friend that the bike was ‘Hot’. Dude needed money, so he called the bikeshop that the sticker showed were it was purchased from, and described my bike to them.

    “Sure, bring it in, we’ll take a look at it, and then make you an offer”…

    Dude brings in the bike, but I’m not there (I had been at work… this was before cell phones). So, they get him to leave it so they could check it out. They call the cops, then the guy gets called back. When he walks in, the cops were waiting.

    He gives up his friend (convicted of meth possession, menacing, assault, robbery, burglary, and bike thief), and gets let go.

    I get my bike back, Pridy is ordered to pay $900 in restitution (never did pay, he owes the state over $3K last time I looked), and I bought the bike shop a pizza party, and the guy who talked the dude into returning the bike a $50.00 gift certificate at Callahan’s (Really nice restaurant on Mt. Ashland).


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  • Drew February 20, 2013 at 7:52 am

    Saw a Columbine leaning against a pole in front of Safeway at Woodstock a few years ago. Beautiful custom rando bike, unlocked. I hung around for 10 minutes, acting like the owner, but waiting for the real owner, who did not show up. I had to go and left the bike to its fate.
    A business like Safeway could do some forward thinking, and install better bike security. Compared to all the car parking infrastructure they support, it would be really cheap. How hard can it be to take away a single car parking spot and install bike lockers? I hope someday a progressive retailer out there will try this.

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  • Editz February 20, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    “Someone came in to sell it and he told the seller he would need to hold the bike for a couple of days and check to make sure it wasn’t stolen. The guy left the bike…”

    Am I missing something, or do the secondhand laws not require a prospective buyer (especially a registered business) to take down the name and address of the seller, especially if they’re holding the property in question? Sounds like it needs to be more like the scrap metal sales laws where names and addresses are taken to discourage tweakers from selling metal items they’ve stolen.

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