The Chainlink

So... my bike got stolen last night.   (Yes, I listed it on the stolen bike registry). It sounds from other discussions as if a lot of stolen bike are ending up at the Swap o Rama.  I know the main thing is to get there early, but I'm wondering: if I find my bike, what do I do then? Do I need to call the cops? Should I just show them a copy of the police report and hope they'll not want to deal with the hassle and just give it back? I do not have the serial number. I'm also not very good at being confrontational.  Any tips will be much appreciated. The picture below is pretty accurate except that the rear fender is gone and I added some neon reflective tape strips on the fork and seat stays. 

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Hi Heather,
Sorry to hear about your bike. I think there is a kind of protocol you should follow when trying to reclaim a bike from the Swap-o-rama, not least because items being offered for sale can disappear in a flash. Don't confront any sellers yourself. There are usually police on duty there as security. I would recommend that you bring someone with you, locate your bike, then have one of you watch the bike while the other finds security. Bring a copy of the police report and serial number of your bike, if you have it. Confront the seller only with security, and if you have established ownership you should get your bike back without any problems. I have helped someone reclaim a bike by following this procedure. Previously, I had a bad experience where I showed a little too much interest in a wheel stolen from one of my bikes. The seller would respond to any questions by saying "it's not for sale. Nothing is for sale." When I finally went and got security, I brought them to the seller's site, and everything bike related was gone. No sign of it. You can count on that happening if you confront a seller before getting security, or don't have someone watch the seller once you find the bike. A camera would not be a bad idea. Make sure the bike is yours once you find it, but try to do so without attracting too much attention from the seller. I hope this helps.
Don't forget that your bicycle can also be claimed with your homeowners or renters insurance. You may not be able to get the complete value, but it should get you on your way if the swap-o-rama thing doesn't work out. Good luck.
Yeah, unfortunately getting renters insurance turned out to be one of those things that I kept meaning to do, and brought up with my roommates, and never got around to.

If there are lessons to be learned here, they include: don't leave my bike outside overnight, and get renters insurance to protect the remaining bikes. I'm glad I got this shake-up with the bike that never fit me well and to which I wasn't emotionally attached. I'm more annoyed (well, and out a big chunk of cash) than sad.

dav said:
Don't forget that your bicycle can also be claimed with your homeowners or renters insurance. You may not be able to get the complete value, but it should get you on your way if the swap-o-rama thing doesn't work out. Good luck.
In addition, do like I do and write down the serial and put it in your wallet. That proves your ownership.

heather stratton said:
Yeah, unfortunately getting renters insurance turned out to be one of those things that I kept meaning to do, and brought up with my roommates, and never got around to.

If there are lessons to be learned here, they include: don't leave my bike outside overnight, and get renters insurance to protect the remaining bikes. I'm glad I got this shake-up with the bike that never fit me well and to which I wasn't emotionally attached. I'm more annoyed (well, and out a big chunk of cash) than sad.

I'm in for a trip down there on Saturday morning. Ideally you'd be there by 7 or 7:30; as I've posted before I've heard the people you want to find sell to vendors in the parking lot early in the morning;
Agree with what MocArtsy wrote in spirit although I wouldn't count on security being available, or off-duty cops, or willing to help-- especially if you see your bike outside of the swap-o-rama grounds.
I would absolutely have someone discreetly call the police the moment you spot your bike, although I wouldn't count on them coming. Your best bet would be if there happened to be a cop nearby.

There is a slight problem of how to prove the bike is yours-- wondering how you were able to file a police report without a serial number? Unfortunately victims are frequently told they can't.
Thanks! I didn't actually file the police report yet-- didn't have time today, so I figured I'd go tomorrow or Thursday. There has been an amazing new development, however... I looked through my old wallet because I knew I had hung on to the receipt for a long time, and the receipt was gone BUT my Rapid Transit winter bike cleanup card was in there, complete with the serial number! Rapid Transit FTW!

H3N3 said:
I'm in for a trip down there on Saturday morning. Ideally you'd be there by 7 or 7:30; as I've posted before I've heard the people you want to find sell to vendors in the parking lot early in the morning;
Agree with what MocArtsy wrote in spirit although I wouldn't count on security being available, or off-duty cops, or willing to help-- especially if you see your bike outside of the swap-o-rama grounds.
I would absolutely have someone discreetly call the police the moment you spot your bike, although I wouldn't count on them coming. Your best bet would be if there happened to be a cop nearby.

There is a slight problem of how to prove the bike is yours-- wondering how you were able to file a police report without a serial number? Unfortunately victims are frequently told they can't.
That's good news. You might have been unable to file a report without it. Hopefully your RT card will be accepted in lieu of a sales invoice.
So what about Saturday?

heather stratton said:
Thanks! I didn't actually file the police report yet-- didn't have time today, so I figured I'd go tomorrow or Thursday. There has been an amazing new development, however... I looked through my old wallet because I knew I had hung on to the receipt for a long time, and the receipt was gone BUT my Rapid Transit winter bike cleanup card was in there, complete with the serial number! Rapid Transit FTW!

H3N3 said:
I'm in for a trip down there on Saturday morning. Ideally you'd be there by 7 or 7:30; as I've posted before I've heard the people you want to find sell to vendors in the parking lot early in the morning;
Agree with what MocArtsy wrote in spirit although I wouldn't count on security being available, or off-duty cops, or willing to help-- especially if you see your bike outside of the swap-o-rama grounds.
I would absolutely have someone discreetly call the police the moment you spot your bike, although I wouldn't count on them coming. Your best bet would be if there happened to be a cop nearby.

There is a slight problem of how to prove the bike is yours-- wondering how you were able to file a police report without a serial number? Unfortunately victims are frequently told they can't.
I'll be there at 7am Saturday--unless I can't get a police report at all, maybe it won't be worth it. I'll let you know if that's the case. thanks again!

H3N3 said:
That's good news. You might have been unable to file a report without it. Hopefully your RT card will be accepted in lieu of a sales invoice.
So what about Saturday?

Sorry to hear the news, Heather, but ummm, yeah, leaving a bike outside over night, especially a Bianchi, isn't really the best idea. Also, why work with your roommates with regards to renter's insurance? Renter's insurance is cheap. All the years I rented solo and with roommates I had my own policy. Don't wait for roommates to look into renter's insurance.

heather stratton said:
Yeah, unfortunately getting renters insurance turned out to be one of those things that I kept meaning to do, and brought up with my roommates, and never got around to.

If there are lessons to be learned here, they include: don't leave my bike outside overnight, and get renters insurance to protect the remaining bikes. I'm glad I got this shake-up with the bike that never fit me well and to which I wasn't emotionally attached. I'm more annoyed (well, and out a big chunk of cash) than sad.

dav said:
Don't forget that your bicycle can also be claimed with your homeowners or renters insurance. You may not be able to get the complete value, but it should get you on your way if the swap-o-rama thing doesn't work out. Good luck.
True that. I was not in the habit of leaving it outside, just left it out there during the day and fell asleep and forgot about it. But yeah, I think I definitely have been lulled into a false sense of safety because it's been a good seven years since I've had a bike stolen. I will certainly be more careful now. (Picture demonstrating my stupid locking method is hereby presented... sure would've been easy to lock to the proper railing if I was gonna leave it out there.)



Craig S. said:
Sorry to hear the news, Heather, but ummm, yeah, leaving a bike outside over night, especially a Bianchi, isn't really the best idea. Also, why work with your roommates with regards to renter's insurance? Renter's insurance is cheap. All the years I rented solo and with roommates I had my own policy. Don't wait for roommates to look into renter's insurance.
/blockquote>
Swap-o-rama security are Chicago Police--they wear little badges around their necks--and they are there in part to help recover stolen property. If you can't find them out on the grounds, ask someone inside and they should be able to radio them. There are a number of vendors who are selling bikes, but there is in particular one who generally has the higher end bicycles--Bianchi and Specialized road bikes and higher end mountain bikes. They usually set up in the northern-most aisle in front of the building, against the chain-link fence. Last time I was there, they had two Bianchis, one of them a San Jose like yours (this was before yours was stolen.)
Also, try not to show up looking to recover stolen bike stuff all biked-out in plus-fours and cycling caps, clomping around in cleated shoes. They will pack up everything as soon as they catch sight of you from across the grounds.
It's probably cold comfort, but I don't think that locking it to the "proper" railing would have made much difference in this case. If a thief is so determined that they carry any kind of cutting tool then an additional half inch of steel probably wouldn't have been much of a deterrent. That said, I still find this to be particularly infuriating.

heather stratton said:
True that. I was not in the habit of leaving it outside, just left it out there during the day and fell asleep and forgot about it. But yeah, I think I definitely have been lulled into a false sense of safety because it's been a good seven years since I've had a bike stolen. I will certainly be more careful now. (Picture demonstrating my stupid locking method is hereby presented... sure would've been easy to lock to the proper railing if I was gonna leave it out there.)



Craig S. said:
Sorry to hear the news, Heather, but ummm, yeah, leaving a bike outside over night, especially a Bianchi, isn't really the best idea. Also, why work with your roommates with regards to renter's insurance? Renter's insurance is cheap. All the years I rented solo and with roommates I had my own policy. Don't wait for roommates to look into renter's insurance.
/blockquote>

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