We've heard some pretty good stories of police running bike thief sting operations and stolen bicycles returned through some hawk-eyed Craigslist hunting, but this is a new one: a San Francisco Reddit user has tracked down his pal's stolen bicycle and plans to confront the alleged thief in person today, all while live-streaming the entire encounter for us folks at home.
Under the Reddit account bike_be_gone, the live-streaming vigilante (apparently named Ed) explains the situation:
Meet my friend/neighbor: 1. married with 3 children 2. his wife survived cancer(breast), in remission as of this summer 3. middle kid has auto-immune disease and is hospitalized regularly 4. guy is a designer here in San Francisco, he's the most humble nice guy you've ever met. 5. uses his bike as his primary form of transportation - it's how he gets to work every day.
Someone broke into his garage, broke the lock, and took his bike 2 weeks ago.
Just found it on craigslist in a nearby town.
Gonna go get it back.
Gonna Livestream it from one phone and record it from another. I'll post the link when meeting arrangements have been made, hoping to do it this afternoon!
In updates to the original post, bike_be_gone/Ed says the whole thing should be going down around 2 p.m. today. As of right this second, Ed and the bike's owner (who wishes to remain somewhat anonymous) are on their way to the address from the Craigslist post, somewhere outside the city. The video should come back live when he gets there around 2:45 or so. (It can also be found here on Livestream.com.) We will, of course, be updating, so grab some popcorn:
Update 2:50 p.m. Whoops, it looks like Ed's live-stream account doesn't support embedding, but you can keep an eye on the live-stream right over here and we'll keep posting the lastest videos as we get them. As of about 2:45 p.m. Ed and the bike's owner were about to meet the local police who will accompany them as they confront the alleged bike thief. Nobody will be kicking down any doors or anything since there's no search warrant, but we imagine things could get pretty awkward. Like Chris Hansen-style awkward.
Update 3 p.m. Ed and friend are currently with the cops, discussing their options for getting the bike back. Apparently the bike's owner failed to write down his bicycle's serial number, which does not bode well for getting it back immediately. (Note to bike owners: always write down your bike's serial number! Take a picture of it with your cellphone or something.) Anyway, this might turn out to be less like To Catch A Predator and more like an outtake from The Office:
Update 3:10 p.m. In a surprising turn of events (not that surprising, actually), it turns out the bike was not, in fact, the one stolen from Ed's friend's garage. But it was "so, so similar..." the bike's owner lamented. We believe this is what Reddit would call an "epic fail":
Epilogue: In a final comment posted to his live-stream page, Ed notes that they do think it was the right bike, but that they "buckled under pressure [frowny face]." Either way, the video stands and we can use this as a teachable moment to remember to always keep your bike's serial number in a safe place.