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I never thought I would be writing this, but the man who stole my bike has been identified and caught. It turns out his brazenness and stupidity in not trying to hid his identity coupled with leaving the tool he used in crime behind has led to his apprehension.

I was contacted last week by the NSW Police from my Local Area Command and asked to come in and provide a statement. The Police Officer quickly told me that my custom MTB had not been recovered (I had already resigned myself to it not coming back). The officer asked me to bring in the “bike specification” sheet that I had provided to the Police and the my local bike stores. I provided my statement at the same time as identifying the thief from many previous mugshots – fifteen to be exact. It was easily matched to footage from our apartment’s CCTV cameras. Fifteen mugshots means he has been arrested fifteen times.

Bike Thief on entry

 

So who is this guy? Turns out he is a drug addict who resides in Sydney’s Western Suburbs. He is about the same age as I am. A single fingerprint lifted from the adjustable wrench he used to break into my locked up cage was matched to a string of other outstanding thefts in which he has also been implicated. He has a string of other thefts in his “work history”, and previously had a history of stealing automobiles and “chopshopping” them. All of this in the name of maintaining his drug habit. When the Police apprehended him after raiding his residence, they found his shoes and trousers that he wore in the break in. He admitted to the crime, and his hearing will be later this year.

Will I get my bike back? Probably not. He doesn’t even remember where he offloaded it. It was only when the photo was shown to him that he admitted to the incident.

Life is full of choices

At some point this guy made a choice, or series of choices, to take on this life. This is what I will never understand. I grew up in a house where the only two drugs consumed were coffee and alcohol, and both in great moderation. None of my immediate family members smoked, and most of my extended family members did not either. When I was growing up at school and through university some people would have a go at me for being boring… for not trying this or that. I could never understand this, because how many times do you have to be told that this is the path that leads to nothing good.

I got a real education lesson when I provided my statement. Sitting with the Police Officer at the station provided me with the opportunity to ask some questions about how the theft likely unfolded. The officer told me several things that got me thinking a lot since that day.

As it turns out, bike theft if rife in Sydney. Apparently there is even some huge guy who loiters around the suburb adjacent to ours who through sheer brute strength can bust open bike locks with his bare hands. The thieves, while not the sharpest tool in the shed, do know the difference between a top end bike and run of the mill.

The officer told me that the Police could probably attribute 90% of thefts to the support of illegal drug activities. Theft in the aim of hocking the goods for cash. I was even told that most thieves do not steal so as to contribute to a future positive outcome – like use the proceeds of a theft to help them go on a holiday.

We spoke about the fact that the thief probably didn’t even get paid in cash, but got a stash of drugs for his fix in exchange for the bike. And he probably offloaded it to a ‘house’ before he even returned back to his place of residence. As it turns out, if someone ‘innocent’ lives in one of these ‘houses’ and cannot be proven to be directly implicated in the stolen goods operation they will not get charged. Aiding and abetting in this case  is not how it is like on CSI.

And here I was thinking that he might try and take it into a bike store to get the busted spoke in the front wheel fixed.

The Police have a thankless job

I can’t comprehend why the Police receive constant criticism and apprehension from the general public. Sure there are bad seeds in the bunch and there are examples of corruption, but this is a vocation that deals with the worst side of society and is often not backed up by the legal system. Plus, I could probably tell you of many worst examples in the corporate world of unethical behaviour.

The Police Officer I dealt with told me about the first six months spent on the job. About the countless dead drug addicts that the officer encountered, who had overdosed on some chemical concoction or another. And about how the legal system does not support them in doing their job by locking the criminals up, or the lack of support groups to try and rehabilitate the addicts to bring them back into society. I asked if there was hope for this thief, but the officer responded that he has hit middle age and this is probably the life he will lead until he is six feet under.

The Police have a pretty thankless job. Yes they are not perfect, but nobody is.I was dealt with in nothing but a professional manner by all the officers I dealt with, and was never bullsh!tted to about the reality of the situation. I want to thank them for taking the effort in apprehending the thief, and I wish they got more support to be successful. As for the thief, right now I can’t forgive what he has done to myself and so many others. He will probably see jail time for his crimes and I am indifferent to that. Based on the life he has lead so far, he has shown no appetite to make a different choice – and everyone has the ability to make the tougher choice.

Does all this make me feel good? No. I just think about what a waste of the opportunity of life.

I have resigned myself to the fact that my MTB steed is gone for good. That is devastating, but as my wife correctly said “I need to look forward and move on”. On a side note, my wife has been awesome dealing with a very angry/upset/melancholic rider in the house whose fuse has been unacceptably short. I think the most devastating thing about it is when I got screen shots from the CCTV footage. The Police are not interested, and if I was honest I don’t think they even have the manpower or resources to chase this sort of stuff down (they have enough trouble chasing down thieves who break into houses or steal cars). So I am left with the follow up, and while my main course of action is to chase up my insurance I want to post this guy’s photos so if others see him they lock up and call him out to the authorities.

Here he is entering into our building in the wee hours behind our cleaner who is trying to empty the garbage.

Thief_MF1

He was obviously not specifically looking for mine.

Thief Mother F#cker 2

At this point I suspect that he realised something was not right about the front wheel.

Thief Mother F#cker 3

He has made a mistake by deciding early morning is a good time to do this. That is when I (and most serious cyclists) get out and ride. It will be interesting to see how I would react should I bump into him.

But I need to move on. The challenge for me now is to find a 26″ bike with QR skewers so I can attach my son’s trailer to the rear axle. I will find a new MTB Steed to love and ride, and now I have the customisation bug it will become very much my ride.

For the last 9 months I have been putting together a dream of mine – a custom mountain from component parts. This is the one I feature as the first steed in my stable. I bought the frame as my birthday gift from my wife and son last year and have meticulously sourced (funds permitting) all the components from all corners of the globe. It was very personal and my pride and joy because it was my design, my setup, and was made to fit me perfectly. It is the steed that I use to tow my son in his trailer so we can go on a bike adventure together as a family. I had busted a spoke on the front wheel last weekend and was going to get it fixed this morning at one of the local bike stores. I had my son with me and we headed down to the garage to get the front wheel and jump in the car. That is when I saw it missing.

It was stolen!

I could not believe what I was seeing – and for a minute I thought I had it upstairs in my apartment where my road bike lives. But it was gone. My son said “Daddy where is your bike?” and that is when it hit me. I had been robbed! As I walked up to the cage it was weird because everything was closed up and the lock was on, but when I got closer I saw what the b@stards had done. They had not broken through the lock, but had broken through mount for the latch and closing mechanism. There was an additional slap in the face because they decided to hang up the lock back on the hook, to make as if nothing had happened.

Broken Latch

They had left everything else lying around including my park tool stand. The cave dwellers probably didn’t even know that they were looking at. But they had lifted the bike clear off its wheel stand.

The empty stand

The b@stards even left their implements that they used to crank open the cage. A rusted old adjustable wrench and a rubber hood that was lying on the end. The hood was probably used so they would not get their thieving hands covered in rust. As if it wasn’t enough of a kick in the guts taking my steed.

A thief's tools

To say my stomach dropped was an understatement. I returned upstairs to inform my wife of what happened, and she came down to inspect herself. There may be hope, as we have CCTV installed in the garage following an assault of one of my fellow neighbours. We will be able to check the footage on Monday. As we went back to the lift I started to feel anger swell inside me – do nothing was not an option. So I left my family and ran around every street I could in the neighbourhood, in the hope that the thieves were stupid enough to leave my MTB steed on display. But to no avail. My anger had not dissipated, so  I thought to myself that the thieves may be stupid enough to try and fix the broken spoke. I grabbed the photos from my blog and wrote up a sheet with the specifications on the side, including all the custom parts. Then I travelled to all my local bike stores, six in total, and informed them of the situation. Two of them had sold me parts, and two of them I had bought from numerous times in the past. I left the sheet with them and then I went to the local Police Station in Glebe. They were quite sympathetic to my cause and in talking to the Constable on duty he consoled me with the fact that bike theft in our area is rife.

By the early afternoon my adrenaline had gone and I felt physically exhausted. I was no longer angry, I was devastated. I had spent 9 months putting this bike together, and it was my first hardcore off-road set of wheels that if I ever chose to race would be my steed of choice. I have not been blogging much the last couple of weeks because I have been working my ar$e off and having to travel. And the one joy I look forward to with certainty on the weekend is towing my boy on a ride. If my bike is being used to finance a high or addiction, then that makes me even angrier. I have worked hard and sacrificed much to attain my wheels, and no doubt the thief with the wrench will never understand this concept.

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