Let me rewind just a bit before I get into the details. The air conditioning in my car has been on the fritz the past couple of weeks. It will work really well one day and only blow hot air the next. With the recent spike in temperatures, this has made the commute home uncomfortable on the days it is not working. On those days, I tell myself “I am taking this in to get checked tomorrow.” Tomorrow comes, the AC works, and I skip the checkup.
Monday, was a off day for the AC. As I drove home that afternoon, I made my plan of attack. I WAS going to take my car in the next day—regardless of how the AC functioned on the commute to the office. When I arrived at my apartment, after first going to the gym and the grocery store, I opened the door to drop the grocery bags inside. I had already popped the trunk and laid the back seats down to allow for my bike.
The plan was to load my bike in the car that evening so I would have it the next day. The repair shop where I take my car is only a couple of miles from my office. Taking my bike would make it easier to get from the shop to my office and back again to pick up my car at the end of the day. It would also make it so I didn’t have to arrange (or wait) for transportation from the shop to the office and back again.
So, I leaned inside my apartment, set my bags down and returned to the landing where my bike was locked to the… Only my bike wasn’t locked to the anything. Normally it sat right outside my door locked to the railing next to my BBQ. What the hell!
I immediately replayed the last few days trying to remember the last time I consciously remembered my bike being there. Inside I was beating up myself at my lack of observance. Who knows how long it had been missing. Out of sight. Out of mind. I don’t ride my bike a lot so it doesn’t cross my mind as I walk past it on the landing every day. I know I watered the plant on the landing on Friday and the bike was there that day. Wasn’t it?
I honestly could not recall. It had always just been there. Since I moved in and locked my bike to the railing. It had been there. The front tire was still inside my apartment. Someone had taken the time to cut the cable and carry my bike off the premises—because it only had one tire. Seriously? Who does that? I live on the third floor of the complex, so they had to carry my one-tire bike down two flights of stairs. I live at the back of the complex, so they had to take the bike past several other buildings—with only the back tire attached.
Immediately I walked the premises of the entire complex to see if someone had “dumped it” after taking the time to steal it from the landing. I knew that was unlikely at best, but I didn’t know what to do. As I returned to the base of the stairs at my building a man was walking from the opposite direction toward me.
“You looking for your bike?” he asked.
“Yeah.” I said in an exasperated tone. “It’s just… gone.”
Another man had come out of the apart two doors down from mine. “I’m pretty sure I know the fat f*** who took it.”
“You do?” I said in surprise.
“Yeah. I saw him trying to steal it a couple months ago and told him to get the hell out of here or I’d call the cops. Someone from the HOA told him to leave the premises too. He’s a sh**head. Hangs out up at the 7 Eleven sometimes too. Wish I could remember his last name.”
“Wait you know him?”
“Yeah. Well, I know WHO he is. I don’t really know him, but yeah. I’m sure he’s the one who took it.”
“It’s been gone about a week,” the first man chimed in again.
“Are you sure?” I questioned. “I’m pretty sure it was here Thursday or Friday.”
“Yeah. Well, maybe not quite a week yet, but almost.”
“If you think of the name,” I looked up at the man on the third floor, “will you please let me know? I’m going to file a police report right. I know I’ll probably never see it again, but I HAVE to report it. Right?”
“Yeah. Send that fat f*** to jail. He’s a piece of sh**. Yeah. I’ll let you know when I remember it. I’ll swear to it with the cops too. I saw him trying to steal it, so I’m sure it was him.”
As the two men went about doing whatever they were doing I called dispatch, since it was a non-emergency.
The dispatcher took my info, told me not to disturb the scene (there was nothing to disturb—they cut the cable and took the bike), and said an officer would be sent.
Almost four hours later a detective called. No one ever came by my apartment. He took much of the same information I’d given the dispatcher, and gave me a case number. He said they’d put it in their database and if anyone scanned it or checked it they would see it was stolen and notify me.
“How likely is it I’ll get it back?” I asked.
“You know… Honestly… We recover a lot of stolen bikes. A lot of bikes we know are stolen but no one filed a report. The chances we recover YOUR bike where there is a report…? It’s probably not going to happen, if you want me to be honest. They’ve either already sold it, or they are using it and they are gonna dump it somewhere when they find a better one. I mean, it’s good you filed a report because if we DO recover it we can pursue it, press charges, and return it to you, but who knows what condition it will be in by that time.”
“Thank you,” I responded, frustrated. Frustrated by the circumstances. Frustrated, but appreciative of his honesty. Frustrated it had taken four hours and no one actually came by my apartment.
I didn’t sleep much that night. I tossed and turned thinking about the whole situation. I wondered why someone would do something like that. HOW someone could do something like that. I was processing what I should do. I planned to visit pawn shops and see if it was there—but who knows if or where they might take it. Would they drop it nearby to be done with it? Would they take it to a different city to remove it from the scene of the crime? Was the guy still using it to get to and from 7 Eleven? What would happen if it were recovered? What if I found it WITH the guy who stole it? I mean, I would definitely call the cops. What would happen then? Likely they would take him in, but it wasn’t like it was Grand Theft. How much, if any time, would he spend in jail? Then what? The guy knew where I lived. Would he retaliate?
I spent the next evening visiting eight or so pawn shops looking for my bike with no luck. The more places I visited the less likely I felt I would find it. I wondered, if they had it would it even be on the floor yet or would they have to hold it for a certain period of time to allow the consignee to repurchase if they wanted.
Ultimately, it is just a thing. Ultimately I don’t ride it that often. Still, it is frustrating to have something taken—from my doorstep. This isn’t the first thing I have had stolen at the place either. Someone broke into my on-site storage unit and stole thousands of dollars worth of tools and camping equipment. Why? How? Who? What kind of people do these things? It frustrates me to know there are people like that in the world.
Then I turn around and see the good that is happening around me. I see the two men who were trying to help me with information about who had taken the bike. I hear about the good deeds others are doing. I try my best to be the change I want to see in the world. That’s all I can do. I can be the kind of person I want the world to be, and I can do it all from the comfort of my newly refreshed air-conditioned car.