6 min read

#8. Bike Thief, Meet Grit

A few years ago, my wife and I bought ourselves new bicycles with some of the wedding money we received. A bike thief came and stole them, but that's not how the story ended.
#8. Bike Thief, Meet Grit

I want to tell you about an experience I had not long ago that reminded me of the importance of being persistent.

Sure, it's great to be smart, but often, grit is what's needed to get results.

I don't know about you, but as I get older, I find I'm not as gritty. I guess I've gotten soft in middle age...

A few years ago, my wife and I bought ourselves new bicycles with some of our wedding money.

They were nothing too fancy, but we spent a good amount of money on them, a few thousand to be exact.

With the bikes, we purchased the best locks possible (within reason). A couple of ABUS and kryptonite brand locks. They weren't cheap, but hey, it's worth it to protect the investment, right?

Especially in a city like Vancouver, BC.

The dude in the Kitsilano bike shop assured me the bikes would be safe, if not thief-proof.

"No one's getting through that lock combo, bro – you'll be fine."

OK, bud. I trusted this guy.

We loved our new toys and we had many great rides around the seawall, stopping for beer and food along the way. And we went on rips for hours and hours, just cruising around and taking in the warm summer air.

We came home one evening after a trip to the Milltown Bar and Grill and locked up our bikes in the secure underground parking garage in our apartment building in Kitsilano.

We had a total of three high-security locks on the two bikes. The locks were interwoven to give the appearance of hard work to bike thieves.

The next day was Monday and we weren't planning on cycling until next weekend.

On Wednesday, my wife received an email from the strata president saying that there was a break-in down in the garage and several bikes had been stolen.

Poor saps, I thought to myself. They should have bought proper locks.

"You should go down and check the bikes," my wife said in a text. I was working from home that day.

"Na, they're good," I replied. "Those two bikes are by far the toughest target in the place."

"OK, if you say so."

😜

She went down and checked on the bikes the following day.

"Your bike is gone, sorry," she said flatly with a frown.

I was sitting watching TV with a beer in hand.

"What?!"

After several minutes of expletives, I calmed down and went below ground to inspect the crime scene.

The cheeky bastard (I think I actually said "cunt") left his tools behind and it appeared he pried the locks off with a big car jack and an electric tool of some sort.

I guess he just wanted it more, I thought to myself. Not a bad haul for an evening's work. I should have been a bike thief.

"You're going to pursue this, right?" She said to me when I returned to the apartment, fuming again.

"How can we? This is Vancouver, this kind of thing happens every five minutes...the police certainly don't care."

"You should really file a report."

I thought about it for a minute.

"Yeah, you know what? You're right, I will."

I didn't, but she did. And I'm lucky she did.

You see, my wife is persistent, she's got grit. I do too, but on matters like this, I tend to cave easily.

For the next three months, she diligently checked Craigslist, Reddit, and other online marketplaces for my bike, predicting that the thief would attempt to sell it for a quick buck.

In my mind, there was no way we were getting that bike back, it just wasn't in the realm of possibility for me.

I was ready to move on, cut my losses, and be done with it.

My wife taught me a lesson in persistence.

Near the end of the third month, I got a text message from her while at work.

"I think I've found your bike. It's been altered a bit but it's nearly identical. And the guy who's listed it, he lives in an SRO downtown."

.....

"Plus, it's got a kickstand on it – how many grown men have kickstands on their bikes?"

Via a fake email account, I arranged to meet the seller.

We agreed on a price and planned to meet at the Vancouver Public Library at the corner of Robson and Homer.

Since my wife opened up a claim with the Vancouver Police Department when the bike was stolen, I called the VPD and asked for backup on the day I was supposed to meet this chap.

By the way, they never showed. Thanks, guys.

I called up my biggest, most intimidating friend and we met up for a couple of courage beers prior to meeting the thief.

Together, we plotted how we'd check the bike's serial numbers to determine if it was mine and we discussed what we'd do if things went sideways.

We waited on the steps of the library until I saw a tall, thin man wearing a wife beater under a puffy black jacket rolling my bright blue bike up the walk.

He had chains around his neck and his black baseball cap had some kind of studded gems in it. Very manly. He was smoking a cigarette and his eyes were cautious, carefully scanning each and every character present in front of the large library.

"Hey, what's up? How's it going?" he said.

"Not bad, I replied. I've been after one of these, do you mind if I take it for a quick spin?"

"It's fucking fast...and sure, but your buddy stays here with me – or you've gotta give me something, collateral."

"Is that OK with you, Wells?"

"Yeah, I got it, man. Take her for a spin, I'll keep buddy company. What's your name again, mate?"

"Josh."

Ah, so that's his name, I think to myself. Maybe.

I wheeled the bike around the side of the library, out of Josh's sight. I flipped it over and checked the serial numbers covertly stamped into the metal.

Bingo.

I could hardly believe it.

Really?!

I mean, this idiot could have easily scratched them out. I guess that's why he's a full-time bike thief – clever, but no grit.

"So, here's how this is going down, Josh," I said, as I returned to the front of the library with a smile on my face.

"I'll be confiscating this bike because I'm the rightful owner. You stole it from an apartment building in Kitsilano. Don't bother making a scene, I've matched the serial numbers and I have a receipt for the bike in my pocket."

"C'mon, Wells, let's get out of here, man."

Poor Josh's face turned bright red as a wave of anxiety washed over him. He had been outsmarted and it was all over his face.

I'll never forget the look of shock on his face which was quickly replaced by anger.

A temper tantrum followed.

"First time?" I said.

"YOU'RE AN ASSHOLE!" he screamed at me so loudly I'm sure most of the people walking down Robson Street heard him.

He reached for his cell phone like he was going to handle some business.

"Yeah, Jay, I need your help, I'm getting robbed down at the library!"

Josh is carrying on and scrambling at this point. I really don't know why, just accept the loss and move on, I thought. I mean, that's what I was going to do. Maybe he did have some grit.

"ASSHOLE! You fucking asshole, that's MY bike!"

"Look buddy, I'm not the asshole here – you are. I've got VPD on the way (I didn't).

It always amazes me how distorted some people see the world.

I was glad a small crowd was forming at Robson and Homer, things were feeling tense. My stomach was churning and my fight or flight response was kicking in. I felt like I might need to defend myself.

Was this guy going to pull a knife? Jab me with a needle? Bust a cap on my ass?

He glared at me hard, considering his options. After doing a quick 360, probably realizing there were many eyes on him, he just walked away.

And that was that.

I had reclaimed my bike without spending a dime, all it took was some grit, some persistence.

I really can't take much credit though. It was my wife who set things in motion, I just finished the job.

Anyways, keep fighting the good fight folks.

Stay gritty.