“STOLEN: Red and white 6-speed Schwinn Cruiser, taken near St. Clair and Bathurst. Sentimental value. Handsome reward, if returned. See photos.”
Deep down, I knew posting this note on Craigslist would not reunite me and my beautiful cruiser, but it made me feel better.
On a sunny July morning two days earlier, I bounced out the back door of my apartment building, partially to deposit some recycling in the communal bin, mostly to admire my bicycle locked on the fence.
I live in a small building, a three storey walk-up, in a section of town considered, “good.” The only major drawback of our collective dwelling is the lack of an indoor space to store our rides. The back of the building is well lit, and two ground-level apartments directly overlook the bikes – so, with little other option, we all take our chances. Who wants to drag their bike up and down three storeys?
After two incident-free years, I had been lulled into a sense of security. The false kind.
On recycling day, the jig was up. I tossed my cans and plastics into the bin, and then gaped for several long minutes at the empty space on the fence where my bike used to be. Thunder clouds immediately formed above my head. Mine was the only bike missing.
In retrospect, it does seem a stupid idea to lock one’s bike to a fence in a city that is notorious for its bicycle theft. Infamous Toronto bike thief, Igor Kenk has been locked up in the Don Jail for almost a year since his bail was revoked last December. Kenk was charged with over 80 counts involving 2,865 stolen bikes as a result of a raid on twelve properties in the summer of 2008. Toronto Police only managed to return 573 bikes to their owners.
And that’s just one theft operation.
A few days after I posted the Craigslist ad, a woman contacted me.
“I am trying to sell my Schwinn,” she said, “it’s the same as the one you are looking for.”
This bike was so much like mine, she went on to say, that it even had the same basket on it! What a coincidence! She was selling it for $100. If I was interested she could provide me with the receipt from Canadian Tire.
I didn’t give a rat’s ass about the receipt. I was more than willing to pay $100 to get my bike – and I was pretty confident she was in fact trying to sell me my own bike – back. When I asked if she could e-mail me a photo and I never heard from her again, I was 100 per cent sure.
The only other response I received from Craigslist was from someone who, perplexingly, sent me a link to a YouTube video about a man who loved his Cervelo so much that he took it to bed with him at night.
I sought comfort in relaying my tale of woe to other cyclists. Most of them pitied me, consoled me with their own bike theft story and then chided me for using a cable lock opposed to a U-lock. However, most experts agree, no lock can really prevent a professional theft. If your bike is desired, your bike can be taken.
Other cyclists who learned the hard way advised me to make my next bike too much of a pain to steal. This, I was told, could be accomplished by employing several locks of varying types. If a thief has to break many locks, theoretically, the bike will be deemed too much of a time investment and he’ll move on. Another frequently suggested option? Drive a hunk of junk, in such horrific state of disrepair it would be overlooked by would-be thieves.
Kenk appeared in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice this week, and it looks like a deal will be struck which will relieve him of most of his criminal charges, although he’ll still face a lawsuit brought by the Attorney General. As for me, I’m too much of a girl to ride something that isn’t cute – I’m the new owner of a sweet little folding bike, light enough to carry up three storeys worth of stairs.
– With special thanks to Grandpaparazzi, for reminding me to write like me.