How one woman got her stolen bike back

Sais found her bike while looking on EBAY for a new one.

The bulk of the story of how Tucson Velo reader Samantha Sais got her stolen Benotto track bike back takes place in Phoenix, but is still quite interesting and can offer some insight for readers in Tucson.

Sais spent the summer interning as a photographer for a paper in Phoenix. Her roommate left the garage door open at the place she was staying and her bike was stolen.

She filed a police report and posted it on Craigslist.

She was told the police couldn’t do much even if they found the bike because she didn’t have a serial number — despite having receipts for parts on it and photographs showing traits unique to her bike.

After a month of searching and hoping the bike would turn up, Sais gave up and began looking for a new one. As she was searching for a replacement Benotto, she ran across a listing for her bike.

The listing was part of an online store for a Phoenix-area pawn shop. Here is what she said happened next:

I called Phoenix Police Department’s “crime stopper” the morning after I found my bike on ebay — apparently the initial report I made (a few days after my bike was stolen) wasn’t a report it was an “incident”. I was told that in order to obtain my bike, I would have to refile my report. Why or how that incident rather than a report happened- I’m not sure. In addition to that, the PD branch that was handling my case was backed up by over a month and another woman I spoke with said my case hadn’t even been assigned to a detective yet and to proceed, I would have to contact him directly. I called him twice the first day and twice the following day- left voicemails and I still never received a phone call back.

Here is the description of the bike on EBAY.

I went back and forth between the PD branch for the area I lived in, the Phoenix PD pawn detail and the crime stopper number, the last officer I talked to while refiling my report to move forward said that it wasn’t up to them to obtain my bike from the pawn shop. They said the best option was to call the pawn shop and explain the situation to them and that hopefully they would put it aside. After filing and refiling and making all these calls- why did I even bother if they couldn’t do anything?? It was extremely frustrating. So, I call the pawn shop and thankfully, they put it aside and said that I could pay them what they paid for the bike- $85+store fee, I paid $92.50 for my own bike.

I went to the pawn shop and they said they couldn’t release to the bike to me (even tho I had my receipts and pictures and its obviously mine) because then they would be out $85. Phx PD said they couldn’t confiscate it until a detective was assigned to the case. PD didn’t defend me as the owner of a stolen bike or the pawn shop of accepting stolen property.

The person who pawned my bike was supposedly finger printed and photographed and there was a name/address (I don’t recognize the person) this information was given to the officer who I called from the pawn shop to come by and ultimately said everything everyone else already told me- they couldn’t do anything and the best option was to pay for my own bike to secure it.

The Benotto does NOT have a serial number and I told PD this and they only said- well then how can you prove it is your bike? Despite receipts/pictures and it being an extremely custom bike- I can identify every single part on that bike and show proof that I put that bike together. The PD didn’t really say anything to that, just said for future reference to have a serial number put on it. Thats it.

The pawn shop ‘ebay store’ was selling all kinds of goods such as GPSs, turntables, bikes, etc… probably all stolen. I honestly gave up looking for it, I was scanning craigslist/ebay for weeks after it was stolen, over a month and half later, boom, its on ebay (which was actually great that I even found it).

The pawn shop said they bought on July 3- why did they wait so long to post it? They didn’t have an answer. The pawn shop also said they only have 4-6 things a year that are stolen and reported and this was a rare occurrence.

The manager said I could pay $85 or have my bike confiscated for up to 18 months by PD, he said he wasn’t trying to be threatening or anything but just that he wanted his money too.

10 comments
3wheeler
3wheeler

I'm getting emotional?  I love it when people use inuendo to try to cut their opponant.  I also like that you think it's acceptable for a person to be burglurized 3 times in 31 years.  Exactly how many times is acceptable to you?  4 times, 5, 50?  You say it's hard to solve these crimes and I'm sure it is.  However, I bet the police know the identities of a number of strong suspects.  They need to keep an eye on those people, but they don't because they focus on violent crimes.  The result is that thieves get a free pass if they are smart enough to wear gloves and a ski mask.  How many of the violent criminals started out as thieves and got their Phd. in crime from the local jail?  Prison is not the answer.  How is it good to put a person in w/ a bunch of other criminals?  Society has always had bad apples but it seems we are making more and more of them all the time now.   More than one of our country's founders said that it is only a moral people that can live w/ so much freedom and have it not descend into chaos.   We must get back to talking about moral values and make them into something that is valued.  I can tell you for sure that if we don't, we will end up w/ chaos. I know this is complicated stuff and I'm all over the dial.  But the police are hamstrung by laws at least as much as funding.  I want a well funded police force, but even when they were better funded they were unable to catch (I don't know the %) a large number of thieves.  If or when they get more funding, I would love to see more sting operations.  You point out that we are all protected by theses laws from false conviction.  No argument w/ you  there, but how much protection is enough and when does it become too much?  Have we reached that point? 

3wheeler
3wheeler

Opinion?  I'll give you the benefit of the doubt here since I didn't spell it out for you before.  Here are the facts that were inplicit in my note but not aknowledged by you.  I was burgled 3 times, all back when the police were "fully funded".  The police score?  ZERO, they didn't catch ANY of the burglers.  My custom Gilmour, worth $1200 in 1980 was stolen in 1994 from my walled in back yard.  The police score? ZERO. The car theft, well I'll give them some time before I judge how that goes.  I've dealt w/ the police on other things as well and find that they have been worthless.  Most of the problem isn't w/ the police, per se, it's w/ the laws.  They are so concerned w/ the rights of the accused that they have undercut the power of the police to protect society from criminals.  We all pay a huge dividend for thieves, yet thieves are only a small % of the population.  We are being bled to death by them. 

zz
zz

The first thing the cop said when I reported my car stolen was,"Do you want it back?' What? Of course I did. Items from inside the car surfaced and were used by the FEDS in a mail fraud case, but no effort was made to connect the dots.

3wheeler
3wheeler

The problem w/ what you're saying is that TPD has never given a rip about theft even when they were fully funded.  I've been the victim of theft plenty of times over the decades and the police have never acted like it was a big deal to them.  They think that you will get reimbursed by your insurance company and that will take care of it.  No, I stand by my statement, the system is set up for the criminals to succeed.  The people who set the system up didn't think it out but the criminals have.

Red Star
Red Star

ebay seems to want to know about its sellers offering stolen stuff: http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/stolen.html Red Star wonders whether ebay was informed at any time in this experience and whether it has since? Of course, reporting to ebay relies on a diligent and efficient local police department... Is the ebay seller still listed by ebay?

zz
zz

The lack of a serial number could be the badie here,  but this exact situation was discussed at a BAC Enforcement Subcommittee meeting a few months ago. I'm assumiing she paid the bucks to get her bike back. I don't remember all the legal stuff, but you can get your bike back. It has to do with the pawn shop not having the rights to a legal sale. This information needs to be produced in an easy format and readily available when someone needs it.  A good subcommittee project. ".....a rare occurrence."  That's real reassuring.

zz
zz

And I'll add this....If it was an expensive bike or an otherwise important bike to someone,  I'd get a lawyer to move these recalcitrant police and dealers of stolen property along in the process that's supposed to work. It may cost a little more but, in doing so,  you force the proper motion that should be taken - something that just buying your own bike back can't do.    YUCK on stealing bikes!

3wheeler
3wheeler

The system is set up for the criminals to succeed.  The police don't catch them and if they did, the crook would be out before the cop had the paper work filled out.  Theft isn't really important to the cops.  We got real problems and they are going to get a lot worse before we wake up and make the folks in charge change things for the better.  My car was stolen last week.  It was a joyride thing, they parked it down the street when they were finished w/ it.  I'm supposed to be glad I got my car back, it cost me $500 to get the ignition repaired.  The car is also making some noises now that it wasn't before.  The cops didn't find any finger prints so they are doing nada.  

Martha Retallick
Martha Retallick

If you'd reported that your stolen car was somehow involved in drug dealing, the cops would have been all over it. It's all part of the War on Drugs, doncha know.