Today I caught a homeless man stealing my back tire and stashing it at his camp under the highway at Ashland and Bloomingdale. I confronted him asking him how long he'd been there and what had happened to my tire hoping he would just give it up. He gave me some story about how that sucks and how two bikes were just stolen from the metra stop nearby then he left pretty quickly on his bike that was obviously too nice for a homeless person to afford. I went through the same hole in the fence he came out of and found his camp with two tents and a stash of at least 6 bikes and various parts under a tarp along with my tire, which I took back. He really did a number on my brakes getting the tire off, it always amazes me how oblivious people are to crime- its a busy street and somebody must have seen him raping my bike.
If you happen to have had a bike stolen in the area perhaps this is a place to look- bring a friend or 5. I didn't take pictures or memorize any of the bikes, I wasn't sure if anyone else was there in the tents or if he would come back. been trying to call 311 but it doesn't seem to be working since the storm started. Based on my other problems with bike theft and dealing with police I doubt the cops would do anything to recover these bikes anyway.
The homeless guy was white, fit, late 30s-40s, red/brown hair with a beard, very red skin and a cauliflower nose and pretty sharp mentally, I know he begs in the street on ashland sometimes.
Smart woman and sound advice; she e-mailed us separately re: her registry listing.
I've asked her to consider taking this post down-- we are finding more and more that as people learn about Swap-O-Rama that they're making the trip in order to score stolen bikes and it's frustrating watching them roll off with new owners before you can get the real owner to come down.
Here's the text:
Recovered stolen bike!!! - $1800 (Swap-O-Rama)
Date: 2010-07-10, 2:52PM CDT
Reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org [Errors when replying to ads?]
If your bike has been stolen--I highly recommend checking out the Swap-O-Rama on Ashland and 41st.
Wife and I retrieved her bike there this morning. Helpful if you have the serial number. Also, you should have filed a police report and provide info on any distinguishing marks on the bike. Cops will be only remotely interested in this info, but make sure they write it down--especially if you don't have the SN. I will be returning tomorrow to locate my Trek Madone (gray and dark blue). We are blown away that we were able to find it.
There were hundreds of bikes there today. I would guess that all were stolen. This is a seedy place so bring backup. My approach was to stall the vendor (ask him about the bike, weather, etc.) while checking out the bike and my wife called the police. When they caught onto me I staked my claim to the bike (wrapped my arms around it) and started talking loud enough about what was going on to draw attention. Got immediate help from passers-by. Security arrived in minutes and fortunately we had the SN. Police showed quickly, too (apparently they had shown up several times already that morning for similar things, stolen items, kids breaking into cars, etc.).
If I had to do anything different I would have located the office first and sent my wife directly there instead of calling the police only. Chances are the police aren't going to arrive in a timely fashion and you'll be forced to wrestle with the vendor. Keep your eyes on the prize. Remember it's your bike--you have every right to squat on it. I would have forcefully taken it out if I wasn't planning to stick around for the other bike. Throw some shock and aww their way. Ladies ask for help from another vendor or decent patron. These people are sketchy.
Also, if you're planning to go look for your bike tomorrow--send me a note and we'll meet up. Strength in numbers, eh?
* Location: Swap-O-Rama
* it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
I'm sure I'm not the first person who's heard this...
A friend told me that his friend actually found his own stolen bike on Chicago Ave (near the Red Line, near that McDonald's) locked to a bike rack. (Lucky SOB, huh?)
The owner took his own U-lock and locked his bike (again) to the bike rack, then went and got a cutter himself and cut the thief's lock loose. I thought that was pretty nifty! Great way to make use of a bike lock, if you happen to have a spare one on you! (Of course, this depends on the thief not getting there first and cutting off your lock).
2 kind of amazing recovery stories came my way in the last 12 hours--one involving the assistance of a bike shop owner, the other involving storming a drug dealer's lair and stealing back two bikes stolen from a garage . . . need to find the time to follow up and get the detailed stories . . . stay tuned.