Woman 'steals' bike back after spotting it for sale on internet

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

by Simon_MacMichael   August 27, 2013  

Craigslist Vancouver

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.

14 user comments

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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 Smile

posted by vasgko2 [23 posts]
27th August 2013 - 16:27


ha ha brilliant!

posted by Karbon Kev [680 posts]
27th August 2013 - 16:42


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!


posted by Goldfever4 [168 posts]
27th August 2013 - 17:13


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 Smile

Racer 074 for the 2014 Transcontinental Race; 2,000 miles from London to Istanbul.


posted by themartincox [363 posts]
27th August 2013 - 17:55


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

posted by jarredscycling [451 posts]
27th August 2013 - 21:04

1 Like

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.
I liberated it there and then.
Instant justice.

posted by Some Fella [776 posts]
28th August 2013 - 0:04


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

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [185 posts]
28th August 2013 - 0:20


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.

posted by Mr Agreeable [142 posts]
28th August 2013 - 8:25


BBB wrote:
In the UK, she'd probably get arrested... Wink

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

southseabythesea's picture

posted by southseabythesea [72 posts]
28th August 2013 - 9:01


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!

posted by othello [285 posts]
28th August 2013 - 10:04


southseabythesea wrote:
BBB wrote:
In the UK, she'd probably get arrested... Wink

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

And a free holiday to Bongo-Bongo Land. Yawn

posted by Mr Agreeable [142 posts]
28th August 2013 - 12:38


Mr Agreeable wrote:
southseabythesea wrote:
BBB wrote:
In the UK, she'd probably get arrested... Wink

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

And a free holiday to Bongo-Bongo Land. Yawn


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

abudhabiChris's picture

posted by abudhabiChris [537 posts]
28th August 2013 - 13:02


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.

posted by TeamCC [146 posts]
28th August 2013 - 16:30


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.

posted by Flippa [36 posts]
28th August 2013 - 23:13