Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bringing Home Blue

May 25th 2014 we awoke and found that my garage had been broken into. My garage was not the only garage that had been broken into, the police were quite busy that morning taking prints and writing reports. The car was completely tossed and some electronics were stolen. I was heartbroken when I realized that my bike, my friend had been kidnapped!  .

Over the past 15 months I have missed my bike. Even 15 months later, every time I saw an electric blue road bike I give it a thorough eye scan to see if it is mine.  This was pretty easy to do because my bike was pretty rare.  While it was not a super fancy bike it was an entry-level carbon frame bike and fully loaded cost upwards of a few thousand dollars.  The bike was customized to fit me perfectly and I rode her anywhere from 600 – 1000 miles per year.  She was an American made carbon frame, the last year they made that model in the US before outsourcing to China.  Yeah she was pretty special.

On June 20th I received an email and a picture of a blue bike from Ms. P.  She said she saw a bike that did not fit the rider.  She snapped a couple pictures of the bike and gave me the location.  I called the police who told me they would not help unless I was at the same location as the bike so I headed for that location. I arrived more than an hour later only to find the bike was gone.  The neighborhood was 16 miles away from where I live and only seeing the area around the Goodwill Outlet, it all looked pretty sketchy!

I was disappointed but very grateful that someone saw the bike and took the time to see if there was anything they could do to get the bike back to the owner. I am assuming she found my information on bikeportland.org where I registered the bike as stolen.  After she heard I was coming across town in rush hour traffic she rode back to the bike to get more information, though even at that time the bike had already left the area. 

Ms.P did not stop there, she posted a picture of the bike and my contact information her neighborhood site nextdoor.com kind of like a neighborhood message board.  This morning I received a message from Ms D who had a lot of detail about the location of the bike and the person who had it.

The person was Kenny Pruett, pictured here in all of his glory.
The email gave me a lot of detail and warned me to be careful!

I have replaced the bike and was not 100% sure it was my bike and knew that even if it were my bike it would have damage. I thought about just letting it go and then I thought again.  I headed to the address provide to me from Ms. D. When I arrived it was obvious that it was ‘that house’ you see on the news.  There was a lot of junk in the yard with a ‘free’ sign on it.  I walked around looking to see if I could see any sign of a bike but nothing.
I was not there 10 minutes and a man rode up on a nice black Trek mountain bike. He was very polite and asked if he could help me.  I told him I was looking at this bike trailer and was hoping he had some bikes for sale.  He told me no and we chatted it up a bit.

He told me that his girlfriend lives in the house and is going to court on the 7th when she is expecting to be sentenced to jail. The house belongs to her mother and once she is gone the mother will be selling the house. This was a great neighborhood and I am quite sure this house has been the source of many problems.

We talked some more and he told me that he had a really good blue bike but he was not selling it.  I asked him more about the black one but he told me it was hot so he didn’t want to sell it to me. He did tell me that he had a really good friend with lots of bikes for sale and likely a road bike like I was looking for. I asked if he would show me his blue one so I could see if that is what I would want to buy and he ran inside and brought it out.

My heart nearly jumped out of my chest, this was my bike!  Yes, it had the expected damage but the first thing I noticed was a chip I had put in the paint. I saw the rusted bolts that attached my custom headset, then the wedges in the brakes that brought them in to fit my reach. I asked him what size the bike was and he told me a 56. I told him that sounded big, could I try to stand over it? As I straddled the bar, yep this is my 58” frame!  I then asked to take it for a spin and he said ‘sure’.  I rode it down and around the corner.

I knew the final proof that it was my bike would be the serial number. I jumped off the bike, laid it on its side and tried to take a picture. I am not sure why or how but at first I could not get my phone to be on a simple normal camera setting!  It was taking delayed timed pictures, videos, squares and who knows what.  I was starting to panic, I was afraid that this ‘bad guy’ would wonder where I was and come looking for me on his other bike!  I finally got the shot and I was now 100% sure with proof that it was my bike!

I headed back, I could not believe that I would be returning my stolen bike to the bad guy.  I had obviously not thought this through!  I rolled back up and told him how nice it was, that I had never ridden something that nice! I asked if he would please sell it to me.  He said he had the bike for about 1 ½ years and he rides it all the time, he really didn’t want to sell it.  He asked if I lived in the neighborhood and I said yes. He started asking for detail at which time I knew I had to refocus the conversation. I asked him if the sewing machine sitting in the yard worked. Whew, the redirect worked. I couldn’t tell him anything about the neighborhood because I really didn’t know where I was.

He told me that this bike goes for $1500 but he would take $800. I told him I didn’t have $800 and asked what his bottom dollar was, he said $700. I asked if he was around during the day and that I needed a day or two to try to scrape the money together.  I held out my hand and introduced myself as Kate.  He shook my hand and said ‘nice to meet you, Kenny’. I told him I would be seeing him around and walked away.

I got in my car and drove two blocks down the street and called the police!  I recanted my conversation from yesterday and informed them now I am with the bike and I wanted it back!  They dispatched an officer who arrived about one hour later.  The officer informed me that I should have taken the bike when I had it because he may not be able to retrieve it from the man. There were a lot of reasons why they could not simply go down there and take it even though I could prove it was mine.  I did share with him that my bike was not the only hot bike down there.

I stayed put while the police went to see what they could do. I could not bear to leave without my bike after getting this close! How could I drive away knowing this man had my very special bike.  My daughter showed up with my bike rack so I could retrieve the bike and I explained the situation. She tried to make me feel better by reminding me that I had replaced the bike and that I should consider it a donation.  She even scooped the loop in her car to check out what was going on. There was two squads and they were having a discussion with him. Then my phone rang, the officer wanted me to drive down and they would walk my direction with the bike!

Yes, he surrendered the bike and admitted that the black bike was hot and surrendered it too.  They did not take him to jail likely because he surrendered the property. He likely surrendered the property because he is on supervised probation for burglary and was trying not to go to jail. Not only did he surrender the bike, he went inside and gave them the wheel that he had taken off the bike!

Yes the bike is damaged and she has been stripped of all her bling but she is back where she belongs. More importantly three bad a$$ women Ms. P, Ms D and myself beat the bad guy at his own game!  I appreciate the bike community of Portland Oregon and the people at Bikeportland.org who made this networking possible.