Stolen Bike (2)
4) Talk a little bit about what tools you used to find it. How did you eventually find it? What facilitated this and was there anyone who helped?
Despite having little hope of finding my bike, I still asked a Chinese friend to phone the police station once a week to check. I also started combing online forums and second-hand APPs, like Xian Yu.
I also paid a visit to an area in Jiuyanqiao, a market notorious for selling stolen bikes, with a friend to see if I could find my bike. This was quite an experience! I had imagined a huge, open market with thousands of bikes that I could roam through looking for my large green bike. Instead, it’s a group of rundown old apartment complexes. Little old ladies lead you down small alleyways to dimly-lit rooms where they stow away dozens of stolen bikes. If there’s nothing to your liking, they call a neighbor who guides you to their home, their stash. And so the search keeps repeating.
Sadly, nothing turned up. I started making plans to buy/build a new bike and began researching my options. Before my bike was stolen I had planned to get a new ride: Something different, maybe a fixie, maybe a road bike, maybe a touring bike. So now I had to hurry up the process.
5) Share the step-by-step of how you got the bike back. How did you work with police and friends? How did you approach the reseller? What precautions did you take to give yourself the greatest chance of getting your bike back. What kind of sensation was it like finally finding it and going for its retrieval?
Four weeks later I was still in need of transport. I needed my independence back. I needed to commute and to have fun riding around.
It was a Saturday night. I had made a plan to buy a second-hand bike early that week. Out of habit I decided to scan Xian Yu one last time. I searched for “Giant”. This yielded thousands of bikes. I narrowed the search to Chengdu only. Still, hundreds of bikes. I searched for “Giant green”. Nothing. I tried, “Giant L” and much to my surprise there was my bike!
I couldn’t believe it! The familiar bright green, the fenders, the bell. Some things had gone missing – the extra water bottle holder, cellphone holder, and LED lights. But it was large, green Giant mountain bike of the exact model. It must be mine!
I didn’t know what to do. I’d found my bike but was still far from getting it back. It felt worse than having not found in the first place.
We left the conversation there and decided to pay the police a visit. We told them we had found the bike. But what should we do? Could they help? They told me one thing. They would not accompany me to see the stolen bike. First, I would have to see the bike and confirm that it was mine. I needed hard proof. Only then could I call the police to come and mediate.
So I started to gather whatever proof of ownership I could. Fortunately I had kept the original purchase ticket and owner’s manual that came with the bike. This contained the bike’s serial number. But typically the first thing a thief does is tamper with the serial number. What other proof did I have? Some accessories had been removed. I had photos of me with bike, but that wasn’t enough to go on. It wasn’t solid proof.