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Cyclists and morality... or lack thereof?(43 posts)

Cyclists and morality... or lack thereof?funknuggets
May 23, 2003 7:47 AM
Ok, ok, ok... these last few days have been a bit too deep, but what would you guys do. Im torn at a snap decision that I had to make last night as I was leaving Sonic.

I was walking back to my car with bike on rack. A man approached me walking with a bike. He asked if I would be interested in purchasing the bike. This guy was not a cyclist. I said I would be interested in looking. He had an ultegra-laden Giant TCR2. Looked like relatively good shape, shimano 535 wheelset... fair bike. I asked what he was asking for it and he said $250. My ears perked. I said I didnt have that kind of cash on me and then he said, "c'mon man, I need some quick cash flow" and then offered it to me for $100.

I knew right off that there was some poor sap in Johnson County who would walk out from his house to find his bike sniped off of his car rack or out of his garage and likely be pretty sour. I have unfortunatley had two of my primary bikes stolen in the past, so immediately empathized with the rightful owner. But the other part of me said... quick cash on RBR or Ebay. In that split second I considered purchasing the bike to find the owner, but the wife...knowing my weakness for bikes tugged on my arm and I had to respectfully decline, but the rest of the night I had to resist the temptation to drive back down and find the guy. Sure I didnt "want" to buy stolen goods, nor did I want to fund this guys crack habit... but man. What would you guys have done?

By the way, aside from the legality and morality issues...that was an insanity price though... can't say that if pressed again, I wouldn't take it.

So ponders the funk:
I would have bought it...eschelon
May 23, 2003 7:52 AM
and would've tried to find the owner of the bike and sell it back to him for the amount I bought it for. I'm sure the owner would've learned his lesson and be glad to have the bike back...I would be doing a good thing seeing as how I am not profiting off of him.

And if I couldn't find the owner after good faith attempts I would've sold it or kept it.
that's called "receiving stolen property" nmDougSloan
May 23, 2003 7:55 AM
I don't think you read my post thoroughly.eschelon
May 23, 2003 8:10 AM
the whole point was to get the bike back to the dude who lost it. If it happended to me, I would be glad to pay 100 to get the bike back from the guy who saved it from being sold to someone else who would've surely kept the bike or the proceeds from it.
but I don't think you can charge himDougSloan
May 23, 2003 8:14 AM
My point is that you can't buy it, knowing it's stolen, and then charge the owner to get it back. He gets it, unconditionally. Keeping it, knowing it's stolen, it wrong, too, even if you can't locate the owner. Lost or stolen property becomes the property of the state if the true owner cannot be located, in many states, at least (it's called "escheat").

I guess...eschelon
May 23, 2003 8:56 AM
My hypothetical $100 can stay in my pocket and the Owner's real chance of getting the bike back ain't gonna happen. I'm a nice guy...but this nice guy needs his $100 dollars to pay his bills and stuff...and this nice guy ain't gonna simply part with his money just to make the owner happy.

Maybe it's just better to follow the law and simply not do anything to inconvenience myself.
but then again...eschelon
May 23, 2003 9:02 AM
some people have brought up a good point that what's to say that you won't be considered the theif trying to extort money? Oh well, to hell with it. It's best to not get involved. What's the point of calling the cops? I've worked with cops everyday, and they simply hate these report writing incidents where nothing can be done except them having to fill out some stupid go-nowhere police incident reports that only contains descriptions of the alleged perp and what you think they were doing. I've got better things to do...and it ain't saving the world.
Can't ask guy to buy it back..MrDan
May 23, 2003 11:10 AM
I would be suspicious of anyone asking me to buy back my own property - capishe? You would have alot of explaining to do... with the police.
I would have bought it for the $100...merckx56
May 23, 2003 7:53 AM
and taken it home for safe keeping, then called every shop within 100 miles and tell 'em what happened. If it had been my bike, I'd have gladly re-paid you the $100 plus a little extra for the effort. Most shops have lists of bikes that have been pinched and would have called their customer about the bike!
I wouldn't have bought it to turn it for profit, but to try to find it's rightful owner.
You might look a little funny...filtersweep
May 23, 2003 8:00 AM
... like you went around bike-napping, ransoming bikes, etc... I get your point, but I'd rather have no brush with the guy. He might have scammed you at the ATM or whatever.
no doubt hotDougSloan
May 23, 2003 7:54 AM
Not sure what this has to do with morality of cyclists, though, unless you man *you.*

I probably would have called the police.

I agree. Stalled him long enough to have the police come nmDave Hickey
May 23, 2003 7:58 AM
ok ok...funknuggets
May 23, 2003 8:00 AM
I guess Im trying to get some varying opinions to help me feel better one way or the other.

Im wavering between feeling justified for not buying the stolen goods, or an idiot for not dropping the $100 and doing whatever with the bike. I just ask this question of other cyclists because we know the value and can empathize with getting our own ride sniped. So, how other cyclists would have reacted is somehow interesting to me. Thats all.

I guess there is no way to know off of ebay or RBR or at a local swap meet... so ack. Im thinking now I should have just pushed the wife away and told her to go get the jeep and her wallet. Ha Ha.

Dear the Funk,JS Haiku Shop
May 23, 2003 7:58 AM
ah, hindsight.

from my semi-comforable, well-lit and somewhat cluttered workspace (a 6x6 carpeted box full of cathode ray tubes), it is very easy to say what i would have done in your shoes. however, if i WERE in your shoes, who knows.

my first thought was to buy the bike for $100, then search out the previous owner, presumably through the local PD, or through Giant (if it were registered). surely that person would reimburse your $100 to get their $1500+ bike back, and would understand that you acted out of concern, and didn't actually steal it to sell it back. :)

a scorchin' deal, yes. stolen, yes. if i'd bought it for myself (which i most certainly would not have done), i'd have felt horrible guilt until finally forced to "do the right thing". my mother is very catholic.

problem is, the bike's going to get sold, perhaps to someone less scrupulous than you or me.

FWIW, that's what i'd want somebody to do if my cherished merckx walked off. then again, i'd probably go door to door with a baseball bat.

no lack of morality heremohair_chair
May 23, 2003 7:59 AM
There's no way I'd even consider buying it. I wouldn't have even looked. In fact, I'd phone a description of the guy into the cops as quickly as I could.

I'm amazed that you've had two bikes stolen and still you'd consider buying an obviously stolen bike. What would you have done if it turned out to be YOUR bike the guy was selling?
that is a great question...funknuggets
May 23, 2003 8:19 AM
Well, the consideration would be for finding the rightful owner... there was a time when I just would have sold it (ah-hem...the college days). But I would also be contributing to the cause of the thief and that stealing bikes is profitable. Thus the dilemma.

Here is a weird situation. I had a Cannondale R800 2.8 with full Ultegra STI stolen back in 1993 which was a huge blow. That was a pretty stout bike back in the day. It was in college, and was my primary bike. It was the offseason so I just did without. I got an injury later that year, and just kinda figured it was gone. A girl that I had dated for some time and was still friends with called me one day about a year later and said she needed to talk with me about something. I immediately was REALLY REALLY REALLY concerned.. but then she told me that the guy she was dating's roommate had a "bike" in the basement that resembled the one that was stolen from me when we were dating. I snuck over one night and looked in the basement window. There it was. I immediately wanted to confront the guys... but that would make her look bad. Nonetheless, I called the police with the "tip" and I got my bike back because I didnt want her to become involved. This is another one of those curious moments of fate that I alluded to yesterday in my post... but nonetheless, I regress.

So had it been my bike... I think I can answer that. Im a bit fiesty and not as slight as most cyclists and honestly would have likely cracked the guy had he not given it back...and then I would have called the police. Not exactly the path to least resistance, but an honest answer nonetheless.

funny you bring that upNo_sprint
May 23, 2003 8:30 AM
I had my Peugeot stolen from my apt. in college. Somewhere in the next week I happened to walk by the local bike shop. Guess what was unlocked in the rack? My bike. I pulled it and started walking away. The thief comes running after me and I start yellin', *you stole my bike mother$##%^r*. There were lots of people around, he proceeded to walk away long before a chance to dial the cops. In LA it wasn't worth waiting the 2 hours it would have taken them to get there unless he'd been *held*. No chance, bigger than me, less scary though.
same heregeeker
May 23, 2003 8:42 AM
"There's no way I'd even consider buying it. I wouldn't have even looked. In fact, I'd phone a description of the guy into the cops as quickly as I could."

Ditto...Maybe I'd take a look so as to add a bike description to the police call.
the trouble with being a good Samaratin in this casetarwheel
May 23, 2003 8:04 AM
If you bought the bike for $100 and then tried to track down the owner, who says he would believe your story? He might think you were trying to extort him. You also could be charged with receiving stolen property. Or the owner could refuse to repay your $100. The best you could do in a situation like this, I think, is report it to the police along with any helpful information you could provide about the would-be seller.
I agreeTimA
May 23, 2003 8:33 AM
Perfectly, you find the owner, he believes you, and you work together to find the guy again to charge him. Now let's look at the down side. You buy the bike, find the owner, he's a jerk, won't give you the $100, and reports you to the police. Now your trying to explain why you have a stolen bike and are out $100. Even worse you get pulled over on the way home, cop notices stolen bike, now try to tell your story. I would like to think common sense would prevail, but in my experience common sense is becoming less common.

I would like to think I would have taken the risk and bought the bike and found the owner, but I doubt I would have. Down side of walking away is just that.
I would give it a pass. (NM)macalu
May 23, 2003 8:05 AM
Sorry, but this sounds like a "story."MR_GRUMPY
May 23, 2003 8:29 AM
Some guys that I ride with, told me a story about how when they were out riding on some trails, they spotted some girls from a strip club, doing a photo shoot for a calendar.
Yeah, I believe that story as much as this one.
May 23, 2003 8:42 AM
now... what in the heck good would it do for me to just sit around make crap like this up. What do you want, his freaking SSN to validate this? I had a moral dilemma and just wanted to ask what other cyclists would do. Its not like the guy was trying to push a freaking Ghisallo or a Prince, or a 'nago or something. If I would have been "making it up" why wouldn't I have said an expensive bike? Why would I have pulled a TCR out of my butt. Lots of bikes I would have wanted more than that (no offense meant to the Giant riders). Sheeshe.

Besides, why would I admit to eating at Sonic anyway?

By the way, you aren't about 5'8", 160, light complexion, buzzcut hair, with baggy pants and a grey shirt with dark blue long sleeves with a circle around a bear on it... trying to fanagle a deal on a sniped bike in Kansas are you?
Nope., I just live by three rules.MR_GRUMPY
May 23, 2003 8:49 AM
#1 Don't trust anyone over 30
#2 Don't trust anyone under 30
#3 Don't believe it, until it bites you on the ass.
I've boiled it down to one rule.Mel Erickson
May 23, 2003 9:50 AM
Never break more than one law at a time.
On my last trip to LA,Dave Hickey
May 23, 2003 9:06 AM
I was riding on the strand at 6:30am and there was a young starlet in various stages of undress doing a photo shoot.
And people wonder why we live here.fracisco
May 23, 2003 9:30 AM
It's not just the weather. But then, we don't get this type of attention, either:
I would have stratled the bike like I was checking to see..the bull
May 23, 2003 8:37 AM
If it fit me then I would have told the guy this is my friends bike Im callin the police!Then I would have done just that!If the guy ran I would not chase him though.
Is it too late to call the police with the information?nm...funknuggets
May 23, 2003 8:47 AM
May 23, 2003 11:18 AM
Confront the bastid. Pay him nothing and claim the bike for the rightful owner. (I'm shocked more people aren't on this bandwagon.)

Yes, it's easier said than done... and I'm a big guy so my views of confrontation are a bit slanted.... and there are minor details we don't have (i.e. how public was the area, how big was the thief, what was the apparent likelihood of weapons, etc.)

But I would have prolly confronted him (especially if somebody else was with me, even if it was just my 100lb wife). No offense at all to you, Funknuggets, do nothing was the safest option... and your personal safety, and the safety of your wife, is kinda important :)
Mr. the bull, I like your style. (nm)TNSquared
May 23, 2003 11:51 AM
Call the police.Alexx
May 23, 2003 9:45 AM
What else CAN you do? If you buy the bike, you've just bought stolen property. Even if you DO find the owner, he doesn't have to pay you the $100 you paid for the bike. In fact, if you ask for the $100 "finder's fee", then you may be guilty of extortion.
No, this is not your concern past having a strong suspicion that the bike has been pilfered. If the police don't want to get involved, then they are part of the problem. Regardless, it's not YOUR problem, so why do you want to make it yours?
For all you know, that guy might've had it given to him (yeah, right...). I know you want to get involved, but it isn't your concern.
I'd have taken a look at the bikeMel Erickson
May 23, 2003 9:55 AM
Said "no thanks" and then called the police. That's why we pay them. Some places they do a better job than others but it's their job, nonetheless. I live near a woods where neighborhood punks dump bikes. Everytime I walk the dogs and find one I drag it down to the curb and call the police. They know me pretty well now, it's been about 5 bikes (mostly Huffys).
re: Cyclists and morality... or lack thereof?aliensporebomb
May 23, 2003 10:58 AM
Sounds like a junkie looking for a fix.

No, I wouldn't have bought it. First of all, I have a
bike I bought legit. Secondly, I karma has a way of
biting you if you do stuff like that.

I had a bike stolen out of my garage when I was living
with my parents and though the bike was recovered about
20 miles away, it had been vandalized.

Last thing I want to do is contribute to the sad and sour
feelings you have after that kind of thing happens.

At the same time, I'd have contacted the cops since the
guy was on foot and no doubt not capable of riding clipless
and likely was not capable of getting away too quickly.
you all are nuts. Let's review:bill
May 23, 2003 2:23 PM
(1) Everyone assumes that the bike is stolen. Very likley correct, I'll grant you, but we don't know that. Call the cops, and you could face malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, heaven knows what else charges.
(2) Just take the bike from the guy? Please.
(3) Buy the bike and sell it back to the owner? And who exactly will believe that this was eleemosynary? Sounds like extortion to me. And once you get it in the basement, and find out it's your size, and you've paid for it anyway, you're going to start calling around? And possibly face the music for receiving stolen goods/extortion/theft/whatever?
Just like OJ is looking for the real killer.
You have little choice but just to walk away. Anything else smacks of bad assumptions and unnecessary involvement in an illegal transaction.
Sorry BillMel Erickson
May 23, 2003 3:26 PM
But number one is wrong. Simply calling the police and reporting a possible theft or attempt to peddle possibly stolen property does not subject you to malicious prosecution (you'd have to be "prosecuting" someone for this to be true), false imprisonment (kidnapping, which you haven't done) or any other charges. Call the police and report what you suspect.
You're right to the extent that calling the police does notbill
May 23, 2003 7:12 PM
constitute malicious prosecution. The guy would have to be prosecuted and he would have to win, and if you would have been the complaining witness, which I guess is kind of doubtful, without more, then you could be sued. False imprisonment, though, is not kidnapping, it's any deprivation of liberty at your instigation. Again, if people (police, magistrates, prosecutors) did what they are supposed to do, it probably shouldn't happen, and it's not terribly likely in any case, but it's not impossible. Long story, but I represented a guy who did something vaguely similar, and he got sued, and it was a nightmare. I think we would have won at trial, and we ended up getting rid of it without his having to pay the other guy anything, but he sure had to pay me.
You dont know me!the bull
May 23, 2003 6:13 PM
You dont know what I would do!
First of all we are dealing with a cowardly theif-the kind of person who would steal a bike while nobody is around!
Once I was on the bike and calling the police he would have to almost mugg me to get it back.He would probally rather run off than deal with a scene in a Sonic parking lot with the police on the way.
Trust me I love to help people there is nothing I would dig on more than returning a Giant to the rightful owner!
when i was much younger...The Human G-Nome
May 23, 2003 4:14 PM
when i was much younger, i was in front of some restaurant in San Francisco and some guy offered to sell me his mountain bike for cheap... i think $150 was the total, but it was obviously a much more expensive bike then that - probably worth around $600. i knew it was stolen, but i bought it anyway. to this day, about 12 years later, i STILL feel bad about that transaction. a few days after buying the bike, i broke it down and took the cranks and bars and put it on another bike, selling the rest to some acquaintance. honestly, that was one of the lamest things i've ever done in my life and if i could go back to that day i would have just walked away.

i've been convinced i have this bad bike karma coming to me ever since, but it still hasn't shown up. i've done plenty of things to try to ward of the blunt of the backlash including giving away bikes to friends and working on other people's bikes for free. i'm still paranoid though, and convinced the bike gods are out there somewhere.... waiting.
The Only Good Option Is Call The CopsGregory Taylor
May 23, 2003 7:07 PM
Bill is close to being right --

* Buy it for $100 to give it back to the "rightful" owner? Nope, for a couple of reasons. First, assuming that the bike is stolen, you just made this crime a paying proposition by giving the guy $100 for the bike. Having been successful, he'll do it again, maybe taking YOUR bike next time. Second, say you are able to find the rightful owner (Fat chance). How would YOU react if some guy came up to you with your stolen bike and wanted to "return" it to you for a reasonable $100? Right. Explain it to the cops when they pick you up. Third, if you beat the first rap, you still have a problem with receiving stolen property, which is a crime in most states. Fourth, chances are that, if you skate past the risk of criminal prosecution, you will be out the $100 dollars as you do not have any enforceable claim to ownership of the bike vis-a-vis the "rightful" owner. You legally cannot demand that he refund you the $100 bucks you shelled out to the crack addict in the Sonic parking lot.

* Take the Bike Away From The Guy - Please. What if the guy actually does own the bike? Hello larceny rap. You just stole a bike. Then there's the risk that this guy isn't such a push-over, crazy on some tacky drug, and he goes all buck-wild on your ass. Even if you are "the Bull", do you want to find out if this guy is packing heat or a blade? Not a high percentage move. And even if you do win the fight, there is a chance that you would be talking to the cops (in the emergency room) to explain why you shouldn't be arrested for beating up a guy while you tried to steal his bike.

* Call the Cops -- calling the police and letting them know that there is some guy in the parking lot approaching people trying to sell a bike at a too-good-to-be-true price is probably the way to go. Either than or tell the security guard or the manager at the Sonic. Let them report it. Either way, just report what you see. And then go home.
The Only Good Option Is Call The Copsrussw19
May 23, 2003 10:37 PM
And the easy way to accomplish calling the cops is this...
And I know this at least worked once... the time I successfuly did it!

Some guy came into the bike shop I worked at trying to sell a full Dura-Ace Trek Carbon (one of the older bonded carbon/al frames, not the OCLV's.. but it was the 7 tube Carbon 2500) and he was asking for $75. His story was that he was heading back home from school and needed the money for a Greyhound ticket to Miami.

Now here's the thing... this guy didn't even look like he could find Miami on the map, let alone be a college kid heading home for the weekend.

So I told him that since I was at the shop we had 2 options... the first, I knew he wouldn't go for, but it set him up to be trusting of the second. I told him that our shop could buy used bikes, but like pawn shops we needed to photocopy the guy's Drivers License and all that mess. He immediately said he didn't have a DL and started to walk off... that's also when I was convinced it was stolen.

So I shouted "hey man, hold on a minute, I got another idea!" and told him I didn't have the money on me right then and there. I would have had to take it from the shop's drawer and if I did that I had to have a record of it. That's why I would have needed his DL. But if he wanted to wait about 5 minutes, I lived up the street and I could get my girl friend to bring the money. He was reluctant, but I was cool and told him I thought the bike was OK, but I would like to help him out. So he said he'd wait. I went in the office and called the police. The police station is like a block from our shop. I called a Sgt. who is a friend of the shop and he was there in like 5 minutes.

Cop shows up, guy says it's stolen after lying for about 20 minutes. He gets arrested and bike is impounded. Here's where it gets fun...
The crackhead stole the bike from another crackhead who stole this bike but knew it was worth quite a bit, so he was trying to hold it until he could get more like $200 for it. It was stolen from some kids apartment and he filed a claim with the insurance company. The insurance company had already paid out the claim by the time the bike was recovered, and I made them an offer on it... I got the bike from the insurance company for $300 which was well worth it. The bike wasn't in great shape after it was stolen so the insurance company wasn't interested in it. The parts were in fair shape, the rear wheel I had to rebuild, but what made it worthwhile was this....

The frame was one of the old bonded Carbon tube to Aluminium lugged Treks. The ones that if you sweat really bad, the clearcoat bubbles up.. well I got it warrantied thru a friend at Trek and got a brand new OCLV frameset. Put the old Dura-Ace parts from this on it, swapped STI levers for the shifters and brakes, rebuilt the rear wheel and sold it for $1500. All legit, all legal. No bad Karma!

Sometimes if you do the right thing, you are rewarded for it.

Now that is using the ol' noggin! Good job! (nm)Gregory Taylor
May 24, 2003 8:40 AM
Very easy decisionSpoiler
May 23, 2003 8:51 PM
Anybody who's ever had a bike stolen will be able to recognize a stolen bike situation. They will have a uniquely clear sense of what the morally right thing to do is.

1. Tell the bike thief you want to buy the bike, you suspect the bike is stolen, but have no problem buying a stolen bike, but the transaction must be done in an empty alley, you don't want anybody seeing you buy the bike.
2. Buy the bike from the thief
3. Get behind the wheel and run over the thief with your car, several times.
4. Get out of your car and retrieve your bike thief blood-stained money.

We hung horse thieves for a reason. Bike thieves must die.