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Vancouver bartender arranges to meet seller for test spin... and rides off on her bike

A woman in Vancouver, British Columbia has ‘stolen’ her bike back after she spotted it for sale on the website Craigslist and arranged to meet the advertiser – presumably, the person who stole it – to give it a test ride.

Kayla Smith, a 33-year-old bartender, locked up her bike last Wednesday while visiting a friend at the Canadian city's Olympic Village and returned an hour later to discover it had gone, reports the Globe & Mail.

She reported the theft to police and also spoke about it in a post on Facebook. The next morning, a friend told her that a bike like hers – which she had bought for C$1,000 (a little over £600) less than five months ago – was for sale on Craigslist for C$300.

Ms Smith recalled: “I called the guy up, totally played super sweet, was like, ‘Hi, how are you? You know, I have the day off today, why don’t I come meet you?’ ”

She arranged to meet the vendor in the parking lot of a branch of McDonald’s, and as she prepared to take the bike, unmistakeably hers due to its stickers and custom brakes, for a test ride, the seller said, “Don’t ride away.”

That’s exactly what she did, however, after what appears to have been a spur of the moment decision.

She rode to a location where she could see the would-be seller without being seen herself, and said afterwards, “he was standing there dumbstruck.”

She added that as it dawned on him that his plan to sell the bike had gone amiss, he ran off. She has given the police his contact details.

“I can’t believe I just stole my bike back,” she went on, although the newspaper says that police have warned cyclists against taking matters into their own hands in similar situations and have instead requested that they be involved.

“I’m still in shock. I’m still in disbelief,” Ms Smith added.

However, the Globe & Mail also notes that despite cycle theft being on the increase in many cities in Canada, many riders as well as cycling organisations believe that police do not take the issue seriously enough.

Ms Smith’s adventure is remarkably similar to one we reported on in 2011 when 25-year-old student Kathryn Lucas form Boulder, Colorado recovered her bike via her local edition of Craigslist when it was stolen from outside a bar.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

14 comments

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vasgko2 [23 posts] 2 years ago
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It reminded me of an incident I had 4 years ago. A friend of mine came to visit and he left his bicycle at the front of my house unlocked. Within 15 minutes someone stole it but we didn't call the police as the bike was way too old and cheap to matter. Afterwards we went for a coffee in the city center and as we were walking the thief appeared in front of us holding the bike (actually it broke down on the way)! Truth be told, we took the bike back, we smacked him a couple of times and we let him go  1

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Karbon Kev [688 posts] 2 years ago
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ha ha brilliant!

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Goldfever4 [213 posts] 2 years ago
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In 2011 my Trek was stolen from outside my boat club. Idiot went into the LBS to try and sell it to them. Later on I went in asking if anyone had tried to sell a Trek that day... lo and behold he was identified via CCTV in the shop. Turned out he sold it for £20 on the street. He skipped court and ended up going to the big house for 12 weeks, damned idiot.

Great to see justice being served then and now!

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themartincox [469 posts] 2 years ago
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I had a similar thing happen in Switzerland with my snowboard. Stolen out of my hotel's wet room, we found it a week later on the other side of the valley in a rack outside a cafe - complete with uk stickers and luscious first day of boarding gauge that I gave it.

Picked it up, walked out and took it home again  1

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jarredscycling [456 posts] 2 years ago
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Yeah there is absolutely no way local police would take a bike theft seriously where I live. Wouldn't even matter if the bike cost more than some cars. Kudos to Kayla for solving her problem herself

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Some Fella [890 posts] 2 years ago
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Got my bike nicked from behind my house many years ago.
The moron who nicked it just happened to cycle past my house on it a few days later.
I followed him and he only lived a couple of streets away.
He left the bike round the back of his house.
Unlocked.
I liberated it there and then.
Instant justice.

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BBB [295 posts] 2 years ago
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In the UK, she'd probably get arrested...  3

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Mr Agreeable [166 posts] 2 years ago
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What's the average value of a bike sold in the UK, £200? So I can sort of understand the attitude of police who treat bike theft in the same way they'd look at a stolen fishing rod or set of golf clubs.

If you can get it across to them that your bike is worth a grand or more, and if (unlike many people) you've actually bothered to take photos of the thing and write down serial numbers, you'll stand a chance of getting it back without having to wait for a classified ad to give you the chance to put yourself at personal risk.

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southseabythesea [145 posts] 2 years ago
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BBB wrote:

In the UK, she'd probably get arrested...  3

Right, and the guy who originally stole the bike would get compensation for his distress!

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othello [359 posts] 2 years ago
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I had my shed broken into a while back and I caught the 2 scumbags in the act, and they made off with my MTB single speed. A few months later I saw it for sale on eBay. Buyer was doing a cash on collection, so I bid stupidly high and won it. I got an address off the seller to come and collect. I had already told the policeman who came to my house what was happening and he was delighted -- he was a new bobby and wanted the arrest I think! He arranged for a local police car to pay the guy a visit and I got the bike back. Result!

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Mr Agreeable [166 posts] 2 years ago
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southseabythesea wrote:
BBB wrote:

In the UK, she'd probably get arrested...  3

Right, and the guy who originally stole the bike would get compensation for his distress!

And a free holiday to Bongo-Bongo Land.  37

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abudhabiChris [692 posts] 2 years ago
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Mr Agreeable wrote:
southseabythesea wrote:
BBB wrote:

In the UK, she'd probably get arrested...  3

Right, and the guy who originally stole the bike would get compensation for his distress!

And a free holiday to Bongo-Bongo Land.  37

 13

I sincerely hope that's meant in some ironic way...

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TeamCC [146 posts] 2 years ago
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Must have been a huge adrenaline rush taking your bicycle back, since they say the person ran away it was most likely the thief too. I bet they are happy to have the bicycle back but wonderful if they could have done something more to catch them.

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Flippa [37 posts] 2 years ago
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I'm not sure that the police don't take thefts seriously, it's just difficult to track them down, especially as a lot of the top end bikes are sold as parts to try and make it harder to identify them (at least they are in our area). At least if a car gets stolen it has a number plate to identify it if it drives past.

We had 4 bikes stolen from my shed (chained to a ground anchor too!). The police took the details, and did keep us updated, but didn't have any luck. One of the bikes was a bright yellow giant. If it had been sold and ridden in the area we would have seen it.

Did find the cheapest one just down the road parked outside some flats. Called the police and they came out, said if we were sure it was ours then we could take it back. The people it the flat had denied all knowledge, so there wasn't any evidence that they were involved in stealing it, or if they just bought it knowing it was stolen.