So this morning I got an emailed offer to “return” my stolen bike, and am pondering how to respond.
But mostly, I’m just curious about how the market for stolen bikes works and fits into people’s lives. Thus the long post.
Back in July my cargo bike was stolen. On one hand I was a bit creeped out. It was clear it was a “professional” job, not a theft of convenience, as a very heavy chain was cut, which must have required some serious bolt cutters. Ergo someone had probably scoped it out and planned it, which means my property was being monitored.
On the other hand I wasn’t incredibly heartbroken, as I have been with other bike thefts in decades past. The bike, an old Xtracycle conversion, was pretty beat up, and though still fully functional, I hadn’t been using it too much in the past year or two because of “life events.” It was too long to store in our house (where my “good” bike stays), which is why it was easily visible to thieves.
I reported the theft to the police, bikeindex and project529 and just let it be.
Today, about 3 months after the theft, I got this email via bikeindex.
Hey I just recently bought a bike through a Friend in the homeless community for $130 because I was in dire need for a mode of transportation . And when I went to register it in my name and this article popped up. I am willing to return the property to you if you’d like. All I ask is for either Full or half reimbursement or another means of transportation please. Thanks.
Question 1: What’s happening here? Honest mistake or ransom? Either way it doesn’t make a lot of sense. As ransom, it’s not much of a scam – $130, or $65?? – but this bike has the function of things that cost >$1000. But it also doesn’t make sense that this person would be surprised to discover the bike was stolen, considering where they got it from.
Question 2: How does this whole thing happen? There’s this crafty, professional theft. Leading to a bike whose apparent street value is $65? (or perhaps less, if my correspondent is trying to make a profit). As a business proposition, this isn’t making a lot of sense. But… what’s the logic? desperation?
Question 3: How should I respond, if at all? I’m not interested in raining down “justice” on somebody. I’m just curious about how it all works.
Thanks for your insights.