Our office has a bikeshare program that allows us to check out a bike whenever we desire. When the program started, I was the first one to submit my name for approval and, quite possibly, the first to take advantage of it.
The problem is the bikes aren’t the best. They serve their purpose but are marginal for riding longer distances, something I rather like doing. I had considered buying a bike and leaving it at the office so I could use that during lunch but Ann suggested I take her old 2008 Trek 7100 hybrid bike since she wasn’t using it at home.
Not only a beautiful bike, it’s a solid bike – and cost $350 new. In fact the only difference between this and my bike, which as served me well since 2006, is that it’s a women’s model. I don’t care; it makes it that much easier to mount and dismount without that high bar in the middle.
And somewhere between the time I left the office on Monday 2/26/18 and my lunch on Tuesday 2/27/18, it was stolen. From inside the office.
I discovered it was missing right after I finished eating, when I walked to the bike rack on the second floor stairway where I park it along with a few others. And apparently I forgot to lock it up after my ride on Monday because this is what greeted me on Tuesday.
I wedge it between that green bike and the black one to the right of it. When I saw this, I panicked and – talk about timing – ran into one of the porters as I exited the stairway.
The building is currently going through a remodel and things are in a state of flux. In fact this is not where the bike rack is normally located, a place with public access. The rack is normally inside the office where the bikes are clearly visible.
With this in mind, I asked the porter if he knew about any of the bikes being moved since, well, mine was missing. He said he didn’t and that’s when my panic turned into disbelief and anger.
I had to take a moment to process things. Then when I realized that it was truly gone, that’s when I got really pissed. I would have really loved to know what my blood pressure was at that point.
My bike was stolen. My fucking bike was stolen. It’s easy to dismiss it as “just a bike” but when you ride it daily and rely on it, finding out someone took it for no other reason but to take it is like a kick in the gut, especially when its sentimental value is far beyond any money they will get for it. It’s like my 5th-generation iPod: not worth much on the market but absolute gold to me as a still-functioning music player.
I walked down the stairway and sent Ann a text about it. She wasn’t nearly as upset as I was but you know, Venus and Mars. Then I stepped outside the building a little lost, but then like George Kennedy swinging his baton on foot beat in The Blue Knight, decided to take a look around the complex.
Long Beach is known for lots of things but one thing it is notorious for is bike theft. There are chop shops all over the town and it’s not uncommon to see a bike locked to a bike rack one day and have it stripped of everything from its frame by the next. The buzzards will pick at it until there’s only a skeleton and then eventually, the skeleton is taken.
It’s also not uncommon to see people riding bikes and carrying other bikes or parts, sometimes at breakneck speed and against red lights. And chances are those parts will get sold to buy drugs – like the crack I saw people smoking outside the building today. I may show you the beautiful parts of town on Instagram but oh, it can be so so ugly, too.
So I walked around in a haze but kept my eyes out for any person riding a bike. No dice, like I expected they’d come running back anyway.
When I came back to my desk I sent an email to the office manager and HR letting them know what had happened. I also sent Ann a message asking her to look for the paperwork for the bike since I thought we had it in our computer desk. She looked and only found one for my bike, purchased in 2007. I needed it for the serial number, not a requirement when filing a report but a big plus because if it’s sold and the number scanned, it will immediately show up as stolen and the ball will get rolling.
But I thought I had taken a picture of it for this purpose. The problem now was looking for it in all of those “Phone Pix” folders on my external drive, filed by month and year. I thought the easier way to find the number would be to call the shop where I purchased the bike so when I got home, I gave them a call.
It turns out they upgraded their POS system in 2013 and have no records of sales before that. My receipt is in triplicate so that gives you an idea of when I bought the bike.
Not giving up hope just yet, I turned on the computer and started looking for that one picture – and I found it in the first “Phone Pix” folder I looked in.
Now that I had it, I filed a police report and also reported it as stolen on 529 Garage/National Bike Registry as well as BikeIndex.org. Aside from checking online classifieds and apps like OfferUp and LetGo, this is pretty much all I can do for the moment.
But I wasn’t done.
On Wednesday, with the theft of my bike still oh-so-fresh in my mind, I checked out one of the company bikeshare bikes and hit the town. Normally, I follow a pretty organized route and end up riding between 3-5 miles in an hour but on this day, I managed to cover over 8 miles in that same time on a cheap bike. Adrenaline is an amazing thing.
I rode to some areas I knew were a hotbed for illegal activity, including chop shops and outside public restrooms along the beach. I kept an eye out for anyone riding a bike and gave them a good look as they passed. I even followed one of those shady characters riding a bike with parts for about a mile before I had to make my way back to the office.
And I’ve decided that should I see someone riding my bike, they are getting chased if I’m riding (remember our friend adrenaline?) or standing in their way if I’m on foot. I’m taking it back, no questions asked.
But there’s a very good chance that I’ll never see it around the office. As I had mentioned, the stairway is public access and anyone from any of the businesses can use it. But considering that most of the businesses there close up at 6 pm and there are construction and after-hours cleaning crews roaming around, there’s a possibility that someone outside of the company took it and doesn’t live locally. Think about it: the one time I don’t lock my bike it gets stolen, which leads me to believe that someone had their eye on it for a long time and they saw the opportunity to take it.
With that in mind, I posted this sign on the wall near the bike rack. Hopefully dangling the carrot of a reward will get them thinking.
And that’s all I can do for now. While I’m better, I’m still pissed that someone thought it was hunky dory to steal my bike. I’ve been checking the bike rack since the company email blast went out and I posted this hoping just maybe the cocksu…thief had a change of heart.
I recall back in the day when I had a Schwinn beach cruiser stolen from me outside a liquor store where I was playing Asteroids. Luckily, it had a bike license and was somehow recovered and returned to me.
Today, with the world so connected, I’m hopeful that this bike will be recovered in a timely manner.
But until then…I wait.
As for the thief, fuck you. To the moon and back.