For What It’s Worth

Surprise! Surprise! (One of a series)

A woman in Vancouver, Canada, was surprised to find that her stolen bicycle was listed for sale on Craigslist, and the man selling the bike may have been surprised when she finagled him into granting her possession of the bike and then promptly riding off into the sunset—at least, she rode off. It was the wrong time of day for a sunset.

Last week, Kayla Smith was at a friend’s house and, while she was there, her new Masi road bike was stolen. She posted on her Facebook page that she was sad because she had worked so hard for the bike. “I absolutely love, love, love my bike,” she wrote. “So, I was choked.”

She said that the next morning she called the police to report the stolen bike and the woman she talked to told her she would receive a call later from an officer who would be doing a follow-up on the report. Then, she called the bike store to get the serial number for her bike.

About an hour later, her friend called and said, “Dude, I think I found your bike on Craigslist.” Kayla checked, and a guy had posted it for sale at an address about two blocks from where the bike had been stolen. She immediately called the police with this information and the woman told her that someone would call her back but it might not be that day.

Stressed that “this guy is selling my bike right now!,” Kayla decided not to miss the opportunity to get her bike back while waiting for a call from the police that might not come in time. She took action on her own. She called the guy and arranged to meet him in half an hour at the McDonald’s on Main Street. When she arrived at the restaurant, she saw the guy in the parking lot and immediately recognized her bike.

She asked the guy if she could take a test ride around the parking lot. She wrote on Reddit that he was wary but said yes with a warning to her not to take off. She told the guy not to worry. “My heart was pounding and I had no idea what to do, so I got on the bike,” she wrote, “and started to ride.”

While it may not have been a Willie Nelson “On the Road Again” ride, it was a successful getaway. As Kayla rode, she called her friend, who was driving to meet her and be a backup. Her friend was pulling into a nearby parking lot, and Kayla rode the bike to that lot. “We watched the guy start to look for me and he got super freaked out and he suddenly just took off running,” she said.

She went home and checked the serial number on the bike and it was hers. “I was just gleaming,” she told Canadian news outlets. “I literally jumped around like a six year old getting an ice cream cone. It was ridiculous.”

Again, she made some telephone calls. One was to the police to report that she had regained possession of her bike and didn’t need to file a report after all. Kayla said she and the woman with the police had a great laugh about the events. I’m not sure that Vancouver Police Constable Brian Montague found the incident to be a laughing matter. In a news account, he is quoted cautioning people not to take bike theft matter into their own hands. “We can arrange those types of meetings. We can do exactly what she did, but with the safety of having the police involved,” he said.

Kayla also called Crime Stoppers to give them all the information she had because she had looked on Craigslist for the guy’s phone number and noticed that he was selling a bunch of bikes and iPhones.

Then, perhaps rubbing a bit of salt in the wound, she called the guy and apologized to him for “not sticking around to pay him for the bike he (expletive) stole from me.”

I wonder who was most surprised. Kayla at finding her bike and successfully retrieving it, or the guy who got suckered and had the stolen bike stolen from him by its owner. Maybe it was the guy who was most surprised when he answered the phone and it was Kayla apologizing.

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