Monday, August 26, 2013

Dear Vancouver Broadcasters: Re: "Woman reclaims stolen bike from Craigslist seller"

Thank you for covering this interesting occurrence in a city where bike theft is rampant.  I find the social media furry that is coming up around this story particularly striking, as something very similar happened to me earlier this year.

Last February, my 2000$ bicycle was stolen from the "secure" bike room in my condo's garage. Someone had targeted my bike, with a blowtorch to destroy the lock.  My husband's (more pricey bike) was left behind.

 I, like Kayla, was incredibly disappointed with the loss.  I spend more time on my bike than doing any other leisure activity: I commute, I shop, I race on my bike.  It had traveled to Montreal and back with me.   I filed a bike theft report ASAP with the VPD, including a serial number, description, and inspection of the crime.  On the morning of the bike theft, I tweeted and facebooked my loss.  The bike company (Brodie) replied, and reposted.  My tweet was repeated a few times in the vancouver cycling community.

All was silent, until May.

In May, I received a tweet from a stranger that stated "I think this might be your bike.  It is posted on Craigslist."   Brodie re-tweeted it back to me. Sure enough, the pictures were exact.  I knew, like Kaley, that it was my bike. Incredibly excited, and nervous that it would disappear again, I had 2 friends phone the lister, pretending to be interested.  His story of how he obtained it was incredibly shady.

However, the location of the man selling the bike was just over the border into Burnaby.  I had one friend that wanted to "go with a group" to get the bike back.  Steal it back.  He was ready to go, I just had to give the word.  However, what did I choose to do?  I was out of town at the time, so I got my husband to call the cops.

It was then, that the VPD let me down.  My husband was first directed to contact Burnaby RCMP;  despite the fact that my bike was stolen, and police report filled out in, Vancouver, the property was now out of the juristiction.  Secondly, my husband was directed to confirm that it was actually my bike, with a serial number.  He was told that once he could confirm it, the police would accompany him to re-claim the property.

The first time he visited, he was there alone.  The second time, police accompanied him, but did not ever leave the car.  We got my bike back (HURRAY!!!!), but not with any help from the police.  They would not press charges, as they stated that the most they could do was "possession of stolen property under 5000$."  They did not look to see if there was more stolen property, despite the fact that this many had many craigslist postings.  They did not investigate further into the original B&E.

I can understand why Kaley did what she did.  If the VPD wants citizen's to call, instead of taking "vigilante" actions, perhaps they should step up their response.  I understand that bike theft is minor, compared to many other crimes, however, it continues to increase year after year.   Bike theft is a problem. It needs to have serious efforts put towards stopping it.

However, what is more important is that  with a lack of response, average citizens will continue to have a lack of confidence in the local police.  We will continue to turn to social media, and self-sufficiency to solve the "every day crimes" that occur in our society.

Thanks for taking the time to read.  And next time, perhaps you should have your interview-ee wear a helmet while cycling.