Tag Archive for Stolen bikes

Guest post: South Bay cyclist brings down a prolific bike thief. And pays a cool grand for the privilege.

A happy ending to a long tale of a stolen bicycle; photo by Mike Bike.

A happy ending to a long tale of a stolen bicycle; photo by Mike Bike.

Last week I stumbled on a couple of news stories with an unusual twist.

According to stories in the Daily Breeze and Easy Reader News, a Redondo Beach man had been arrested for stealing a number of bikes from garages in Redondo and Manhattan Beach.

I don’t think anyone would complain about getting a bike thief off the streets.

But the interesting thing was the way the thief was uncovered, when a man simply walked into the Redondo Beach Police station and told them he’d bought a hot bike.

It seemed like there must be more to the story.

And there was.

The next day, I found an email in my inbox from South Bay cyclist Mike Bike, who identified himself as the man in question. And offered a detailed explanation of his role in the convoluted tale.

Yes, it’s a long read. But it’s a great story, and well worth the time.

And fair warning to anyone tempted to buy a bike of questionable provenance.

………

Caveat Emptor

Strange day today. Very strange, indeed.

It started out so well. Jane and I are training for a couple of tours at the end of the month and we had been frustrated trying to get her new bike to fit her. Today’s ride was going very well, though, after we finally got it dialed in: up the west side and back to the South Bay where we’d finish up the long weekend with this long ride.

Then it got weird. But let’s go back a ways.

A month ago we’d started training in earnest after Jane’s school year ended. We had done a serious climbing day up on the hill. We were headed home and Jane was in a hurry because she had some prep to do for a summer class. As we passed ‘the corner,’ I saw some bikes chained to sign posts on the right side. One of them caught my eye because it was a small women’s frame. The issue with Jane’s bike was that it’s a 52cm men’s frame that we thought was just a tad long in the top tube and with the standard diamond frame didn’t give her much stand-over clearance. I pulled over but Jane kept going. It turned out the guy selling the bikes was strolling up to show it to some other guy who just came there and must have called (both bikes had hand-written signs with a phone number). I asked the guy “how much for the Specialized?” He said he had checked on Craigslist and it was worth a lot and he’d have to get $1000 for it. It was a new looking Specialized carbon fiber WSD with Shimano stuff on it. Nothing looked abused. It had eggbeater pedals on it. I told him I was in the market for something like this but that my girlfriend had just ridden by. I wanted her to look at it and test ride. I jotted down the phone and model stuff and left him there.

Jane was interested. She thought it would be worthwhile to look at a bike just a mile from the house. So I collected my mad money, $700, and got in the van to go look. We brought her pedals and a pedal wrench and Allen keys to make it a little better for a test ride. We called ‘The Guy’ and he came on out from somewhere. I asked if I could swap pedals and he said, “sure.” We chatted a bit and he said he rode regularly up on the hill. He had bought the bike for his wife and she loved it but they were forced to move since his dad was dying of cancer in New Jersey. He was moving back there to take care of him and they needed to get rid of stuff. I could sympathize with that. Jane came back from her spin and said she liked it. I told ‘The Guy’ that I only had $700 or so on me, could he take less? He said he needed the grand. I told him I could go to the ATM down the street. Jane stayed and I went to the ATM. I came back and gave him the cash and we did the deal. I asked about cleats for those pedals; he said they had never bought those. His wife only rode it a few times and he had bought the bike like that used, with the pedals. OK, I was a little suspicious; but it was a plausible story.

After a week off for travel, we got on it in the middle of June. It was clear that the stem was too low. On a ride back from the hill, we saw ‘The Guy’ out by still more bikes for sale. We stopped and told him that we were really pleased with the bike but were still dialing it in. Jane asked about these two ‘new’ bikes; He said they had found two more stashed in the back of the garage. We rode away thinking that things weren’t as plausible as they were earlier. As for the stem, I thought it was an 80 mm but it was actually a 60. It turned out a friend at work had an adjustable stem he wasn’t using. And he wanted the pedals so we made a swap.

I did the wrenching and things were better but she was still cramped and getting a sore back. She wanted the seat further back. We moved it as much as possible but she wanted more. I was thinking we bought the wrong size bike. I looked at set-back posts but thought maybe one of my other posts could yield a cm or so. I swapped to a different post with a little more space but it was not enough. Looking at the bike, it was obvious that the bars should be moved forward if she wanted more space. My work friend had an array of stems and he was pleased with his pedal deal so he agreed to lend me all his OS stems. Over two rides we eventually gravitated to the longest of the lot, a 120 mm. We were even able to switch back to the original post.

In the mean time I had purchased side loading bottle cages due to the extreme smallness of this little compact frame, along with a new top-tube bag and seat bag. We had her Garmin on there and a new bell (which didn’t fit so well on the OS bars but I rigged it with a zip tie). Saturday night she declared it finally dialed and she looked at the tour profile and said “We need to do 71 miles tomorrow.” A quick calculation showed the west side run with a trip to Hawthorne would do it. The hot weather would help with heat conditioning though the breeze kept us from getting too hot.

Sunday morning we got underway about quarter to eight. We turned at the plaza and headed north along the coast, and were going much better than other recent rides because the bike was finally dialed. What a difference! Jane held my wheel while I kept an eye on her with my relatively new helmet-mounted rear-view (really nice unit: http://www.safezonemirror.com/install/). Great day.

Coming back, we rode the beach south taking our time through the crowds. Then we rode by the plaza on our way to completing the 71 miles. I did the mental math and it looked like we were right on target. Go to Hawthorne, hit Trader Joes for some cold drinks and then home.

Then it got weird. As we crested PV West I noticed a small female rider on a bike that looked too large for her; she was rocking her pelvis on the saddle and just looked awkward. I passed her and didn’t say anything. I looked back and Jane was off my wheel a bit then I heard the ladies talking. I got to the overlook and pulled off thinking I might give the lady advice. They both pulled up and I thought I heard the lady ask how long Jane had been riding. I told her about 5 years. She looked displeased. It became apparent she was interested in the bike and wanted to know how long we had it. I said we bought it used about a month ago. She said “that’s my bike!” Well, what do you say to that?

She said it was stolen from her house nearby a little over a month earlier along with other items and she had resorted to riding her old bike which had been re-fitted for a daughter (she did not wrench). Then she started obsessing. I asked her about the stuff I had replaced, could she tell me what the original equipment looked like? She could not. But she claimed she had the police report and the serial number in her phone.

The serial numbers matched. Crap. I bought a stolen bike for cash. But I still had the guy’s phone number and I had seen still more bikes at the lot on Friday.

The lady insisted she wanted her bike back right there. I said that we were out on a ride and I understood it was her bike but could we please finish our ride and we’d give it back with the original equipment on it (provided I could trade back to get the pedals!). She wasn’t buying it. She wanted the cops. We agreed, police were needed to resolve this, but she had no idea where she was. I helped her out giving her reasonable instructions on our location (you say Paseo and PV West and it could be about 5 different places). She kept insisting that I should have known the bike was stolen and I should have checked the stolen bike data bases before purchasing. Maybe so, but I’ve been stymied too many times trying to buy well-priced used merchandise on web-sites that I tend to move quickly.

The cops arrived and at first wanted to know who the perp was. Thank goodness they didn’t draw weapons or cuff us. We explained the situation several times to several officers and since the numbers matched (and they checked the report online) they said the lady needs to have her bke. I asked again if we could please finish up our ride and we’d get the bike restored and returned; they said no. They said we should remove our stuff from the bike and they’d impound it.

Fortunately, I had spotted Greg (another guy who’s ridden with us many times and done construction work for us) parked nearby. I went over and he had just finished his ride and I explained some of what was going down. So with Greg’s pedal wrench and my multi-tool, I started taking off pedals, stem, bags, computer, and bell; leaving the bars dangling by the cables. The lady exclaimed “are you going to let that asshole take parts off my bike?” The cops said, yes, they were my parts so I could have them. I explained yet again that I would make the bike whole and I really wanted to finish the ride but if you are going to be like this, this is how it will be done. So Greg loaded up our stuff in his truck, the cops carted the stolen bike off in the back of the police cruiser and I was left to ride home. I passed the lady on the ill-fitting bike and waved. She had my phone number and address and would stop by to let me fix the bike later.

I thought it couldn’t get any stranger. I started mulling over a visit to the roadside bike sales lot to chat with ‘The Guy’; but what to say? Basically, the lady was going to be more-or-less whole; but I was out $1000 and the PV cops had no interest in helping me. At least they didn’t shoot me! Down the hill I went. What to do next. I had to get the pedals back; shouldn’t be a problem. I had to talk to more cops in the south bay; never much fun talking to cops. I turned and headed toward home. I was mulling things over as I crossed an intersection. Someone yelled from a car window “Hey, I’ve been looking for you!” I looked over and there’s the guy! He pulled a left turn and parked the wrong way behind me.

He says his buddy just came up with a high-end bike and he thought I might be interested. A month later and he recognizes me!?! In any case, here he was saying he wants to talk to me I said, yeah, I’m real interested. His wife was in the passenger seat and she offered to take my phone number again since he didn’t have it anymore. He remembered that he sold us the Specialized and that we’d stopped to say how much we liked it. I asked him, again, where did you get that. He said it was his wife’s and said “where’d we get that, honey? Was it Huntington?” She said it was. I asked about how his dad was doing. He said “it is what it is.” Very profound. I was less sympathetic this time. He said “Yeah, we’re leaving in a couple of weeks.” Then they drove up a side street as I noted their vehicle license and make and color. Tres bizarre.

I got home and Jane wasn’t home yet, so I called her. Greg had to drop some stuff at Ray’s house. They were just looking at bikes at ‘the lot’. I told them to forget that; I was going to get a call from him this afternoon to see a bike. They drove to our street. We talked it over and decided first things first, get the pedals. Then the bike lady called and said she had the bike and was stopping by. I said I had the stem but no pedals yet but I’d get them. After 45 minutes and a trip for pedals, she was set. I went back home and we contemplated our next move. No call from ‘The Guy’ so I called the local cops. Cops on the phone don’t really want to chat so I said I’d stop by the station.

Jane and I went down and after some screening at the front desk and sitting on their hard bench, got to talk with first one officer and then a pair. They seemed somewhat disinterested in my bizarre tale; maybe because it sounded like I made it up. But they took down all the info I had: stolen bike police report number, phone number for ‘The Guy,’ plate number, description and times. Then they told me I was SOL; that I was lucky I wasn’t arrested for possession of stolen goods! I thanked them for their compassion and we left figuring ‘The Guy’ was going to have a long career as a salesman.

We cleaned up and decided to go out for dinner with Jane’s daughter. We ended up driving by the sales lot. The bikes that I’d seen earlier were gone. Crap, maybe he’d gotten wise and pulled up stakes after my questions. Then I glanced right and saw a police car parked. Hey, I said, half in jest, maybe they’re visiting my friend. Jane’s daughter said it wasn’t one car but two. We went to dinner and talked about the day.

After dinner and some shopping, we drove back by the place. Wow! Now there were four police cars and a police pick-up truck! And it was loaded to the gills with bikes! Holy crap; not in my wildest dreams did I expect that outcome. We pulled around the corner and parked and got out with cell phone cameras ready. We chatted with the official looking officer on the front steps. He indicated that they took the guy down and he was a major operator. He had been carted away and would spend the night in jail. Wow. Then the two officers from the PD visit emerged with big smiles. They thanked me and said it had been a big help. I told them that ‘the Guy’ hadn’t called me back. I got the police report number so I could cite it for my income tax loss; that’s about the only way I’m going to recoup any monetary benefit on this one. Small claims court seems a long shot. No offense, but I’m not a fan of courts, lawyers or law enforcement. But I’ll give them kudos on this one.

I sent a text message with the pick-up full of bikes to the bike lady. She called back to say she was very excited and glad they got ‘the Guy’.

Reflecting on it now; it was one very strange day. Jane has got a new Specialized from a local dealer; costs more but nobody is going to stuff it in the back of a police car in the middle of our ride.

Oh, and if you’ve lost a bike to theft in the south bay, contact the Police department, (310) 802-5124.

Don’t expect sympathy.

BOLO Alert: Scattante bike stolen from Fairfax District

I’ve just gotten word that a bike was stolen from a garage in the Fairfax District sometime in the last few days.

The bike is a black Scattante R330 — most likely a 2010 model — with two bottle holders and a saddle bag with tools, serial number SI CF J10 F01180.

The bike was stolen from a shared garage on the alley between Orange Grove and Fairfax Avenues, and Oakwood and Rosewood. The theft was discovered Thursday morning, and occurred sometime between then and the previous Sunday.

If you see the bike, call the LAPD Hollywood station at 213/972-2971, then email the owner in care of SButensky@aol.com.

Stolen Scattante

BOLO Alert: Fixed gear Schwinn stolen in Studio City yesterday

Yet another bike has been stolen from an LA cyclists.

Parker Hopps locked his bike behind The Counter at the corner of Laurel Canyon and Ventura Blvds in Studio City yesterday, only to have it stolen around 3:30 pm.

The bike is a black 2009 Schwinn Madison fixed gear (see photo); it was purchased from Metropolis Bikes on Lankershim, so it may have a sticker from that shop attached to the frame.

The suspect is described as a Hispanic male in his late 20s, with black hair, about 5’8″ and 160 to 170 pounds. He was wearing blue jeans, a white track jacket with blue stripe down the arms, black sneakers and a black hat.

If you see the bike or know the suspect, call the LAPD North Hollywood station immediately at 818/623-4016, then let me know and I’ll forward word to the owner.

Parker Hopps fixie

BOLO Alert: 1991 Trek 2300 road bike stolen from Wilshire/La Brea area

I hate bike thieves.

As far as I’m concerned, anyone who could steal someone’s beloved ride is one of the lowest forms of human scum infesting the planet.

Especially when they target a friend of mine.

That’s what happened on Saturday when bike advocate, urban planner and fellow LACBC board member Herbie Huff had her ride stolen. The theft occurred between 11 am and 2:30 pm when her distictive-looking bike was taken from her garage in the Wilshire/La Brea area.

Be on the lookout for a 50 cm, black and yellow 1991 Trek 2300. If you spot it, call the police, then contact Herbie via Twitter. Or let me know and I’ll forward word to her.

Herbie is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. And no one is more committed to making our streets safer and more livable for everyone.

So let’s see if we can get this one back for her.

trek_2300_5

 

trek_2300_3

BOLO Alert: Motobecane Fantom CX stolen in Culver City

I’ve just gotten word that a bike was stolen in Culver City. Here are the details from the owner’s Craigslist post:

  • Motobecane Fantom CX Cyclocross Bicycle
  • 61cm (for a taller rider)
  • Dark Gray
  • Salsa Drop Bars (Flipped)
  • Shimano Ultegra STI Shifters, Derailleurs, Crank
  • Baby Blue Look Clipless pedals
  • Black Fenders
  • Brass Bell

If you see it, contact the Culver City Police Department at 310/837-1221, and email the owner through the Craigslist post above.

The bike belongs to the husband of the long-popular LA Cycle Chic blog. So let’s all keep an eye out and see if we can get it back for them.

Motobecane-1

Motobecane-2

 

City Council PLUM committee punts on My Figueroa; major sub-human scum steal an autistic girl’s e-bike

Four years ago Bill Rosendahl fought for bike riders; will anyone step up now?

Four years ago Bill Rosendahl fought for bike riders; will anyone step up now?

Four years ago, former Councilmember Bill Rosendahl famously declared the era of LA car culture was over.

Yesterday’s meeting of the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee head-scratchingly yawned otherwise, as a car dealer and seemingly confused councilmember teamed to throw a monkey wrench into plans for cycle tracks on South Figueroa.

The long-planned and bid-ready My Figueroa has been delayed, perhaps fatally, by the owner of the Felix Chevrolet group of car dealerships, who inexplicably claims to support the project while simultaneously threatening to sue to stop it.

And by Councilmember Curren Price, who has previously proclaimed his support for bicycling, as well as the Figueroa cycle tracks, but now wants further study of a project that has already been studied to death, and consideration of options that have already been rejected for good reason.

And let’s not forget a little bike hate from Hollywood thrown in for good measure, which wants to keep parking their trucks on the street instead of paying for parking like every other Angeleno. Evidently, they’re not satisfied with merely watering down our formerly effective Spring Street green bike lanes, and won’t stop until they’ve turned the entire city into their exclusive back lot.

As Damien Newtown put it on Streetsblog, the project needs a hero.

Unfortunately, Rosendahl has retired. And no one, as yet, has stepped up to claim his mantle in fighting for the rights and safety of LA cyclists on the city council.

The vacuum that exists at the top of the LADOT flowchart means no one there will take on the fight, as the mayor continues to drag his feet on appointing a permanent leader for the department, and prime candidates like New York’s Janette Sadik Khan and Chicago’s Gabe Klein move on to less problematic pastures.

Meanwhile, the mayor himself has yet to publicly take a stand in support of bicycling, other than to sign on to the city’s application to the Green Lane Project — which could be jeopardized by the turmoil over My Figueroa.

That follows other city leaders washing their hands of cyclists, as Westside Councilmember Paul Koretz killed planned bike lanes on Westwood Blvd, and self-proclaimed bike-friendly Councilmember Tom LaBonge has single-handedly stopped major bike projects on 4th Street and Lankershim Blvd, while supporting a killer redesign of the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge complex.

Meanwhile, newly elected Councilmember Gil Cedillo has inexplicably halted all progress on shovel-ready bike lanes on North Figueroa that he previously supported, apparently in a fit of pique directed at his predecessor.

The only action taken by the committee on Tuesday was to ask city staff to study the issues they’ve already studied, using money that has already been spent.

And to report back in 30 days to explain why they recommend what they’ve already recommended.

Maybe it will be enough political Kabuki theater to suggest to opponents that the council members really did consider their objections before going forward with what they should have gone forward with anyway.

Or maybe Koretz, LaBonge and Cedillo will step up and battle for bike lanes, as long as they’re not in their own districts.

And maybe that bacon I had earlier in the week will reconstitute into its original porcine form and aviate out of my ass.

……….

In a major display of sub-human greed, a pair of lowlife schmucks have stolen a custom-made tandem e-bike from a severely autistic 12-year old girl.

The bike has a raised seat back and seatbelt that allows the girl, a double transplant recipient, to ride a bike, which would otherwise be impossible for her. And which render the bike pretty much useless for anyone else.

It was stolen November 30th at 2:32 am from a home in the 4200 block of Marina City Drive in Marina del Rey. Surveillance video shows two men — if you can call them that — carrying the bike over a locked gate at the Marina City Club condo complex.

Chances are, after two months, the bike — which was donated by the Make-A-Wish Foundation — has long been stripped and sold as parts. But the jerks who stole it are still around somewhere, and need to be taken off the streets.

For a very long time.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Sheriff’s Detective Keysha Gipson at the Marina del Rey Sheriff’s Station, 310-482-6022.

Thanks to Cynthia Rose for the heads-up.

……….

The LA Weekly begs to differ with the LA Times Op-Ed about the living hell Santa Monica has become. Because of, you know, bikes.

Evidently, all those cars streaming in and out of the city have no effect on traffic. Or livability, for that matter.

……….

Britain’s advertising authority bans a Scottish bike safety commercial because 1) it features a cyclist riding without a helmet, and 2) the rider doesn’t cling dangerously to the gutter in an attempt to ride as far right as possible.

The Guardian rightly asks, are they daft?

Note: As Nik points out, that should be “ride as far left as possible.”

Update: In the face of massive blowback, the ruling on road positioning has been suspended; the ruling on helmet use appears to remain in force, even though helmets are not required in the UK.

……….

Finally, Bangkok closes key intersections to become the Copenhagen of the east, even if bikes can hide bombs; thanks to Vanessa Gray for the link.

……….

Thanks to Erik Griswold for his generous donation to help support this site; contributions of any amount are deeply appreciated.

BOLO Alert: White 2009 LeMond Reno stolen off Metro 222 bus in Hollywood

Just got word that a bike was stolen off a Metro bus on Hollywood Boulevard Wednesday night.

Stolen Lam LeMond

I’ll let the bike’s owner, popular LA cyclist Johnny Lam, describe what happened.

It was stolen off the 222 Metro bus line heading Eastbound on Hollywood Blvd at 8:40PM.  The theif lifted it off at the bus stop on Ivar Ave and Hollywood Blvd and rode southbound on Ivar Ave.  By the time I saw it happen, I could only see that he was wearing a backwards baseball cap and was pedaling away with my bike around the corner.  The bus driver was honking and people on the bus was yelling, “the bike”.

It was a 2009 Lemond Reno 51cm.  They can email me at johnny.m.lam@gmail.com or contact Detective Savedra at (323) 563-5000 at the LA Sheriffs referencing case #913-06822-6874-386.

Keep your eyes open, especially if you see a similar bike listed on Craigslist or some other online forum, or see a bike on the street that matches the description.

Let’s get this one back.

And catch the son of a bitch who stole it while we’re at it.

BOLO Alert — Bike stolen in front of Downtown hotel

Here's the actual bike that was stolen.

Here’s the actual bike that was stolen.

Just getting word that a bike belonging to a friend of a friend was stolen last night from in front of the Sheraton Hotel at 7th and Hope Streets, across from Macy’s Plaza.

The bike is a black men’s Virtue roadster-style, with black tires, black seat, a rear rack and a bent back fender. It was reportedly parked next to a police cruiser when the brazen thief cut the cable lock and took of with the bike.

If you see the bike, don’t try to stop the thief yourself; call the police and let them deal with it. Then contact me so I can pass word on to the owner.

Bike theft is one of the few forms of crime on the upswing in Los Angeles, offering thieves the perfect storm of easy opportunity, high reward and low risk.

Protect yourself by using a heavy-duty U-lock any time you’re going to be away from your bike for more than a few minutes; as this case shows, most cable locks provide little protection. Record your bike’s serial number in a safe place, and keep current photos showing the way it looks now to aid in recovery.

And I strongly recommend signing up for free or low cost bicycle registration from Bike Shepherd or the National Bike Registry.

Then again, if Downtown L.A. had a bike center where riders could securely store their bikes, this theft — and countless others — might never have happened.

A-GGH7DCIAA2f_L.jpg-large

Model of the bike taken.

Possibly stolen bike recovered by Monterey Park police

Just received an email from an officer with the Monterey Park Police Department about a suspected stolen bike.

According to the officer, they have recovered a Kestel Talon, roughly 50 cm, with a full Dura-Ace Gruppo. They have reason to suspect it was stolen, but the serial number doesn’t show up in any database of stolen bikes, which suggests that the theft may not have been reported by the owner.

Contact me if you know the owner; you can find my email address on the About page. Or contact the Monterey Park police directly through their Craigslist ad for the bike.

They’d really like to return the bike to its rightful owner. And put the person they believe stole it behind bars for awhile.

BOLO Alert — Two bikes stolen from Culver City

I’ve been forwarded news this morning that two bikes were stolen from a Culver City woman yesterday. So be on the lookout when you’re on the street — or especially on Craiglist, eBay or other reseller marketplaces.

If you see them, contact the Culver City police at 310/837-1221, or your own local police department. Then email the owner ay virginia dot solomon at gmail dot com.

; you can find my email address on the About page.

Thanks to Eric Bruins for the heads-up; as he notes, there’s a special place in hell for bike thieves.

Ritte Bosberg -
White, external routing, size small
FSA alloy compact K Wing bar
Ritchey WCS stem
Specialized 155 ruby Saddle
FSA Gossamer alloy PC7 SRM
Ultegra pedals
Ritchey WCS maybe 57mm (?) rims with Vredestein tubulars.
Black Fizik bar tape
Swobo Sanchez -
Silver, size 50
Blue Oury grips
some random low rise MTB bar
Ritchey Pro stem
Specialized Toupe saddle
105 front wheel
hand built salsa delgado rim laced to a surly flip flop hub rear wheel
old dura ace cranks
toe clip pedals
black rack, probably planet bike…
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