Did I tell you about the time I caught a thief on Craigslist? Well that’s a good story. It’s like “To Catch a Predator,” only with less dirty talk.
So I moved from one apartment complex to another back in February, and my new apartment complex didn’t have a bike rack, so I left it chained up on campus. In May, I went back to get my bike. And sure enough, it was gone. Chain cut and bike removed.
I missed my bike, so I started looking for one with the help of my loyal addictive companion, Craigslist.
One of the first few bikes for sale looked eerily familiar. I leaned into the glow of my laptop screen. Is that – could it be? Blue paint, thick mountain tires, and that sun-faded strap-on bag for my chain to go in! Yep, it was my bike. The ad read:
Fisher mountain bike in good condition $70 call or e-mail for more questions 434-401-8924 or jrpalmer@[schoolname].edu and the e-mail above.
And included two photos of my bicycle. (That’s the guy’s real number, by the way. If you want to call and laugh in his face after you finish reading this, be my guest.)
I called him and said I wanted to buy the bike TODAY because it’s EXACTLY what my niece wants for her birthday. If he could meet me somewhere close to me this afternoon, I’d give him $100 for it! He agreed to meet me at Target for the exchange.
Meanwhile, I did a Facebook search on his phone number, and found that his profile and his wife’s are public. They have two boys, with another kid on the way. She dropped out of school to be a mom, and he just graduated from the same college I attend. In fact, he works for the university. Which means he stole from his workplace when he sneakily swiped my bicycle. This just gets better and better.
I saved the ad and all the information I had on Bike Thief to a flash drive and drove to the university police department. After presenting my case to them, they sat open-mouthed for a little while, and asked if I wanted a job. I said I just wanted my bike back.
Not having jurisdiction off campus, they asked me to rearrange the meeting place to be on campus. I called Bike Thief again, and we got into some friendly banter. I said I worked for the university, and we talked about our departments and (by the way, I don’t work for the school, and never did) he told me where his office was and where the closest entrance was that I could meet him. Turns out, his office is in the same building as the campus police department.
He hung up, but must have had second thoughts, because ten minutes later he called me back to say his wife had just sold the bike, so sorry. So I went off to class while two police officers went upstairs to escort Bike Thief down for questioning.
He claimed he got it at a yard sale, but when the detective put him in the cop car and said “Take me to the location of this yard sale,” the doofus confessed.
His wife hadn’t sold the bike, and he brought it to the campus po-po, and they arrested him and asked me if I was going to press charges. Ha, YES. Without consequences for their actions, people will continue to do whatever they want.
Bike Thief was promptly fired from his job. A court date was set. And I reveled in my investigative skills and the stupidity of the male species.
So three months later (that would be last week), the court date is up. I dress nicely, and bring a notepad, since I have journalistic tendencies. I get to court, and meet up with my friend the detective and his chubby apprentice-cop companion, who is as new to the whole court thing as I am.
The three of us go into the court room, and there’s no Bike Thief to be found. His defense attorney is there, a short guy with a great jaw line and a colorful tie. The prosecutor, a big black guy with surprisingly little masculinity but some very smart-looking glasses, shakes my hand.
The Greenwald case is up before us, so Bike Thief isn’t in contempt of the judicial system just yet. Mr. Greenwald has a suspended license, and got pulled over with two chicks in the car. He made Miss Pitts switch seats with him before the cop got to the driver window. Poor Miss Pitts did as she was told, obstructing justice. The bobby wasn’t that dumb, and of course then had to search the car and its occupants. They all had some illegal smokable green stuff (too bad we’re not in California), and so all three of them are charged with this-and-that-blah-blah-legal-jargon. The judge is mean to them. I take notes furiously.
Bike Thief never shows, and my court experience is over in ten minutes. Now Bike Thief has a warrant out for his arrest in the state of Virginia, and the City Clerk Lady is trying to get me to skip my first day of classes this fall to come to the make-up date, where his defense attorney will probably plea guilty on his behalf and I’ll get $50 restitution from Bike Thief and a pat on the back from the detective. I’ve got another thing coming for City Clerk Lady, but that’s a different story.
So I was curious as to why Bike Thief would inconvenience me yet again, so I went home and checked Facebook. Turns out he’s moved to New York, where he’s a salesman for some dumb company nobody’s ever heard of. It’s a dumb company because they hired a fugitive. Maybe I’ll send them a letter. They have a right to know.
The lesson to take away from my story, children, is that you are only a victim if you let yourself be victimized. Devastate the lives of those who eff with you, and the population of effers in your life will decrease proportionally.