When I first noticed my bikes were gone, I had to look several times to make sure I wasn’t confused. Was I on the wrong floor of the parking garage? No, this is right. No sign of my bikes on the racks. I panicked.
A trip to the leasing office and some time at the computer revealed grainy security camera images from two nights ago of a man going into the dark corner of the garage and emerging with one bike. Then another. Then another. Road. Cyclocross. Mountain. My whole fleet!
I flew into a rage, developing revenge fantasies that would make Liam Neeson proud. But I was also mad at myself. Locking them in the condo garage rather than getting another storage unit was a cheapskate calculated risk. And I got burned.
Each day since I noticed the bikes were gone, I glanced at Craigslist thinking there was a chance that my bikes might turn up for sale; and it was a good way to size up potential replacements.
Yesterday at lunchtime, I clicked on an ad for what sounded like a possible match for my road bike: 56cm 2011 Cannondale CAAD 10. But the specs listed in the ad didn’t at all match what was shown in the photos. So I looked closer.
SRAM Rival components? Check.
Custom Freshbikes paint scheme. Ok, hang on.
Red anodized hubs? Selle SMP Glider saddle? That’s my bike!
The thieves didn’t even know what they had, copying and pasting incorrect descriptions from the manufacturer website and failing to notice several big-ticket aftermarket parts on the bike. It was almost humorous … almost.
Fork Material Carbon, aero crown
Rear Shock Not applicable
This bike has clip-less pedals.
They will make you very fast when you use cycling shoes with them.
How exactly was I going to pull this off? Fairfax Police Department explained that they didn’t have jurisdiction in DC, and my best bet was to lure the seller into Virginia. They said I should set up a meet, call the police a few minutes beforehand, and hope they would show up while I was looking at the bike.
The plan wasn’t very confidence-inspiring. How seriously would the police take the issue? What if they didn’t show up quickly and the seller wanted to complete the transaction? I had visions of awkward attempts to drag out the interaction waiting for cops.
An offer of a little extra money on top of the asking price lured the seller to Arlington. I picked up Gripped teammates Jason Berry and Jason Harris for backup – I didn’t want to go into this situation solo, and these are two of the toughest looking dudes on the team.
20 minutes to go until the agreed-upon meet time with the seller, we were looking for parking. Harris spotted a cop car nearby that we flagged down to explain the situation. Officer Kelly said it was my lucky day; it would have been his unit that was sent once I phoned police dispatch.
He directed me a couple of blocks away, where we were met by several other APD officers and vehicles. The plan was to put my cell phone in my shirt pocket where the officers could remotely hear what I was saying as I spoke to the seller. If the bike was indeed mine, I was to talk about the agreed-upon price. This would be the signal for the police to move in. This whole thing was exciting and nerve-wracking. Harris and JB assured me things would go down smooth and were ready to spring into action if things got sketchy.
I walked up the block to meet the seller, who did not look like the thief from the security camera footage. Out of the backseat of his car came a CAAD10, and I knew instantly that it was mine. I made small talk about cycling, with the seller explaining he didn’t have time to ride the bike and wanted to get rid of it. I told him that I thought it was worth our agreed-upon price (the code for the police), trying not to be too derpy and preoccupied with the phone in my pocket.
About fifteen seconds later, three police cars come to a screeching halt in front of the seller’s car. Cops quickly cuffed the guy while his friend made a half-hearted attempt to run away.
Phew! It’s over! The police carefully examine a picture I have of myself on the bike and the serial numbers, and finally burst into laughter when they see my name written on the top tube of the bike.
When questioned, the seller said he serendipitously ran into a crackhead on the street selling this bike for a few hundred dollars. He bought it and listed it hoping to make a quick profit. The police and I were incredulous of this story; they assured me they’d investigate, and the guy would likely be put under pressure with threat of a sentence of transaction of stolen goods unless he comes clean. I’ll likely never know the fate of my MTB and cyclocross bikes, but would be very happy if the investigation led to the busting of the guy who did the actual stealing.
I am grateful to Officer Mulvey of Fairfax Police Department, and Officers Kelly, O’Daniel, Crider, and Lennon of Arlington Police Department for all the assistance.
Also a shout out goes to Curtis at Freshbikes for quickly emailing me my receipt with serial number, giving the cops the documentation they needed to verify my ownership of the bike. Finally, Gripped Racing teammates Jason Berry and Jason Harris dropped everything this afternoon to help me out and provide support, and I am so thankful to be part of a team like this one.
BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR:
Medium Niner Air 9 hardtail silver
white Rockshox Reba SL fork
SRAM X9 group
Stans Arch 29er wheels w/ Maxxis tires
White Selle SMP Glider saddle
blank carbon frame 57cm
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Avid mechanical disc brakes
Stans Crest 29er wheels
Selle SMP Glider Saddle
3T bars / stem