Reunited and it feels so ... dirty.
One of our two stolen bikes has been recovered thanks to my first-class detective skills.
Ever since our bikes were stolen on that fateful beer run to the grocery store back in July, I've made it a point to scour Craigslist's bike ads almost every single second of my life. I perused the listings every day to see if the thief would be stupid enough to post either of the stolen bikes for sale.
Well, he finally was.
Sunday afternoon I was sitting on the couch, scrolling through bike lisitings on my iPod Touch, when a certain ad jumped out at me. A non-descriptive men's mountain bike was listed for a measly $25. I clicked on the picture and sure enough, I found myself staring at the handle bars of the bike that was taken from me. Same color. Same beat-up, slightly rusted frame. Same missing kickstand.
I immediately emailed the seller, acting like I'd never seen the bike before and wasn't totally seething with rage. Before I jumped to conclusions, I wanted to be a thousand percent sure the bike was indeed mine, so I queried him about the condition of the bike's seat. The picture showed a cute, cushy little seat cover strapped to the original, and if I could get the seller to admit the original seat had 2 holes in it, I was golden.
"Yes," he responded. "The original seat has some wear. Two small holes about the size of pencil erasers, to be exact."
Clay and I made arrangements to "look at the bike" later that evening and at the urging of my father-in-law, my bro and sis-in-law drove behind us in case something should go "awry" (Yeah, because the mere mention of something bad happening didn't freak me out or anything). Mitch and Molly waited in the wings while Clay and I approached the house and knocked on the door.
The bike was leaning against the garage door, and I recognized it instantly.
"This is my bike!" I hissed to Clayton.
"Simmer down, Sparky. Let's talk to the guy first."
The man who answered the door was as sweet as pie and I instantly felt bad for pegging him as a thief. He was wearing a D.A.R.E. t-shirt tucked neatly into jean shorts and come on, the only crime a man wearing jean shorts has ever committed is a crime against fashion.
I took the bike for a "test ride" to see if I'd like it (and of course I did—it was my bike!) and when I rode back into the driveway, Clay asked me if I wanted to buy it. Me, being the ever-convincing actress, appeared indifferent towards the bike and said I needed a little time to consider it. We left the seller's house under the guise that we'd be back within a half hour.
As we walked back to our car, Clay filled me in on the details he got while I was off joyriding on my own bike that I had to pretend like I'd never seen before: Apparently the seller owned rental houses and found a bunch of leftover items when some of his tenants moved out. This bike was among the clutter of things left behind, and he was simply trying to see if he could make a fast buck before carting it off to Goodwill.
Now I felt sick to my stomach for accusing Mr. JeanShorts of theft.
But, not wanting to take any chances (and after having your bike stolen you tend to trust people significantly less), we drove around the corner to a nearby park and called the police.
And let me tell you, I've never wanted to vomit so bad in my entire life. The combination of fear, anxiety, and excitement almost made my heart explode and I paced nervously around our car while we waited for the police to arrive. Molly dutifully handed me one of her several stashes of pepper spray and the idea that this could possibly go wrong made me feel faint. My gut told me that this guy was legit and had absolutely no idea he was peddling stolen merchandise, but despite believing in the goodness of people who wear jorts, the police told us not to do anything until an officer arrived. The build-up of dealing with the police gave me horrible visions of nightstick beatings, gunfire, and accidentally pepper-spraying myself in the face. (Need I mention we were dealing with an old, crappy bike here? My imagination tends to run rampantly wild and illogical.)
Less than 10 minutes later, a police cruiser went whizzing by and we all but Dukes of Hazzard-ed our way back into the car and followed him to the seller's house. Clay went to meet the police officer and I, like the brave detective I am, waited in the car.
And called my mommy.
After getting our case number from the police station (if you remember from my initial post, we filed a police report after the bikes were stolen), the officer and Clayton went to the seller's door. I busied myself by pretending like I was sending a very important text message because just the thought of seeing the look on that poor, unsuspecting man's face when he saw a police officer at his door made me want to crawl under a rock and die.
A few agonizing seconds later, I finally built up enough nerve to look up and saw the three men standing around my bike. I could make out Clayton's distinct voice apologizing profusely for getting the police involved (we're cut from the very same cloth, he and I), and I heard the seller reply, "Its no trouble. I had no idea. Take it! Take it!"
At one point I heard the seller mumble a question and watched in horror as Clayton point towards the car and said, "Oh yeah, she's right there."
Remember me saying I wanted to crawl under a rock and die at this point? How about I crawl under a rock and you dump about a million bigger, heavier rocks on top of that?
In the end, we got my bike back and sufficiently and thoroughly traumatized an innocent man (in our family we do it big, or we don't do it at all). Luckily, we had my in-laws' bike rack in my trunk and easily strapped the recovered mountain bike in for a safe journey back home.We spent the whole drive to our townhouse contemplating our next bike ride together now that we have two bikes again. It's funny (and not at all surprising when you consider the kind of luck we have) because not even 30 minutes before our bikes got stolen, we were talking about how much fun it would be to do this as a husband and wifey hobby.
We got home (after stopping for a Diet Coke Polar Pop to calm my nerves), locked the old mountain bike up with my new one, and tried to pretend like we weren't just part of a sting operation.
I checked my email and saw a new message from the denim-clad seller:
"Happy you got your bike back."
Okay, seriously—where are those millions of heavy rocks I was talking about?