Man Steals His Bike Back From The Guy Who Stole It From Him

A vigilant vigilante went after his property with a vengeance in Washington, D.C., after a thief made off with his bike. Police couldn’t respond fast enough, so this guy did what any bicycle-loving property owner would do — he tracked his bike down and took back what was his. Turnabout is fair play, right?

NBC 4 in Washington says Danny’s Cannondale hybrid, purchased for $600 in 1998, was stolen after he loaned it to his friend, who had only secured it with a cable lock. The thief made quick work of that lock with a pair of boltcutters.

Soon after the theft, Danny was perusing Craigslist and recognized his bike for sale for $100. He knew it was his because of a prominent sticker, and so he called the cops. They said they wouldn’t be able to get to it right away, and Danny knew he had to act fast or say goodbye to his bike forever.

He called up the number in the ad and arranged to meet with the man selling it. Then he says, he simply took it for a test ride and never looked back.

“This guy finally started calling me, and left a message saying he was going to call the police,” he says. Funny! Danny put a post on Craigslist when he got home, warning other users about the thief.

Police advise citizens against taking the law into their own hands to get stolen property back, but Danny is pleased with his actions.

“I’m glad that, hopefully, his business is interrupted a little bit,” he said.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen burgled items recovered with a little Craigslist sleuthing (there was this, and this and then this), so keep it in mind if you find your property has wandered off.

*Thanks for the tip, Daniel!

Vigilante Bicyclist Gets His Stolen Bike Back [NBC 4 News]


Edit Your Comment

  1. MCerberus says:

    The only way to get things done in DC: disregard the law

    • CommonSense(ಠ_ಠ) says:

      He did not disregard the law.
      The law does not say you cant just take your property back from a thief.

      • MCerberus says:

        ‘a prominent sticker’. Unless that sticker was really quite specific or placed on there as a means of identification, and Danny recognized the thief, which isn’t stated, there’s a pretty good chance that he just stole some random bike.

        • hoi-polloi says:

          I guess you didn’t watch the video; the sticker was really quite specific. Even though my bike is stock and I don’t have unique stickers on it, there are several distinctive marks I could use to identify it.

        • wickedpixel says:

          Yeah, that’s much more likely than the guy being about to recognize a bike he owned for 14 years.

        • bluline says:

          Oh, please. Even without a special sticker I’d be able to easily identify a bike I’d owned and ridden for thousands of miles.

        • longfeltwant says:

          Actually, no, there is not a substantial chance; there is an insubstantial chance, a chance low enough for all reasonable people to ignore, but plausible enough at least in theory for wags to blather about on the internet.

    • matlock expressway says:

      If it’s good enough for congress, it’s good enough for me.

    • ScandalMgr says:

      Now, what if the Craigslist seller bought the bike from the thief?

      Then Danny just screwed some guy out of his rightful money, even though it could have been considered stolen property.

      • flip says:

        The person who bought it stolen would get screwed anyway by the cops IF they did their job and recovered it.

      • oldwiz65 says:

        No. Not his rightful money. He purchased stolen property, and would have been lucky not to have been arrested. Any money you use to buy stolen property vanishes if the owner reclaims the items.

      • Difdi says:

        Theft does not transfer ownership. Buying a stolen item from a thief doesn’t either.

        Yes, it sucks if there’s an innocent dupe in the chain, but that’s just how the law works.

  2. hmburgers says:

    Holy hell look at the size of that guy’s noggin!

    • Blueskylaw says:

      He looks like a physicist, but that would require brains and
      as we all know, there are no smart people in Washington D.C..

    • Jack T Ripper says:

      Stuart Mackenzie: Look at the size of that boy’s heed.
      Tony Giardino: Shhh!
      Stuart Mackenzie: I’m not kidding, it’s like an orange on a toothpick.
      Tony Giardino: Shhh, you’re going to give the boy a complex.
      Stuart Mackenzie: Well, that’s a huge noggin. That’s a virtual planetoid.
      Tony Giardino: Shh!
      Stuart Mackenzie: Has it’s own weather system.
      Tony Giardino: Sh, sh, shh.
      Stuart Mackenzie: HEAD! MOVE!

      • Bladerunner says:

        Head! Pants! Now!

      • Jules Noctambule says:

        I wanted to have someone playing bagpipes at my wedding just so my sister could finally have a context in which to shout ‘Piper down! We have a piper down!’

    • dorianh49 says:

      He’ll be cryin’ himself to sleep tonight on his huge pillow.

  3. Blueskylaw says:

    “Police advise citizens against taking the law into their own hands to get stolen property back”
    “so he called the cops… they said they wouldn’t be able to get to it right away”

    The question is, WWDD? (what would Danny do)

  4. Cat says:

    There is no profit motive for police to track down thieves.

    Now, if you can convince them the thief is going over the speed limit on your bike while smoking a joint and carrying a large amount of money…

    • MCerberus says:

      This is DC, you have to specify that he’s not the kid of a senator.

    • shepd says:

      This is why we need to privatize the police force.

      • Cat says:

        No, this is why we need to overturn forfeiture laws.

      • MCerberus says:

        Privatized law enforcement… we have this in the US in few select prisons. You know how it turns out? Higher costs, more fraud, and stunning inhumanities done to make another buck.

        • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

          But it also results in Robocop.

          Frankly, I’m conflicted.

      • Jawaka says:

        You think that a private force would care less about profits?

      • Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

        I’m guessing you never watched RoboCop…

    • oldwiz65 says:

      And people who get stolen items recovered rarely tip the police in sufficient amounts.

    • Difdi says:

      That wouldn’t work so well, the police would simply seize the bike and keep it. Asset forfeiture laws, and all.

    • Geekybiker says:

      Yup. I’ve found the police pretty useless when I’ve had things stolen from my garage, people hit my car while parked, etc, etc. Unless they can fine them, or the perp is literally sitting there in front of them they don’t care.

  5. Hi_Hello says:


    my bike has a s/n. I have written it down and email it to me. If it’s stolen, they better file every s/n on the bike before selling it..which I don’t think they do.

    • dulcinea47 says:

      That implies that someone is going around checking the serial numbers to see if they match a list of stolen bikes. Pretty sure they’re not.

  6. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Ha! Sneaky! Good for him.

  7. Cat says:

    I hate when my property starts wandering off all by itself.

    Hold on – I think my wife is trying to leave the kitchen.

  8. Hoss says:

    He’s playing with fire. No sympathy if he gets hurt

    • regis-s says:

      It’s all fun and games until the guy that stole the bike initially uses reverse lookup to get buddy’s address and decides to administer a little vigilante justice of his own.

      • The Cupcake Nazi says:

        You can’t do that with a cellphone number, and to me it seemed pretty clear the number he gave the thief was his cell. I mean, giving anyone on Craigslist a home number would be kind of pointless, since the idea would be to facilitate meeting up.

      • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

        Given this Craigslist post, I think the thief should be the one who is a bit more careful.

        • neilb says:

          Nice link!
          I really do wonder how much CL stuff is stolen. I had to stop looking at the music section due to this stuff being all over the “for sale” section.

    • zibby says:

      I’d better not do anything if I’ve been wronged, it might make the person who wronged me angry.


    • zibby says:

      I do appreciate your implicit notion that since it’s DC, only the criminal is likely to be armed…

  9. Invader Zim says:

    Huge ATTA BOY

  10. kobresia says:

    I, too, am pleased with Danny’s actions. If the cops won’t stand-up to thieves because they can’t be bothered, people have to stand-up themselves.

  11. Alan_Schezar says:

    Note to self… If selling a bike (legitimately), don’t let the potential buyer take it on a test ride.

    • hoi-polloi says:

      Always hold some form of collateral, hopefully of equal value or importance.

    • witeowl says:

      I learned that when I was a child and I let another kid (I didn’t know him, but he said I had a cool bike, so he must have been a nice guy, right?) ride my bike around the block. A half hour later, I walked home, bawling my eyes out the whole way.

  12. chemmy says:

    Good for him. I was riding to the beach with a guy friend in Long Beach NY. As we’re riding there, I asked my friend when he got the Trek he was riding. He didn’t have it the month before and was unemployed…. He said someone left it parked on the boardwalk outside a bar he frequents. He said if they weren’t responsible enough to lock it up, they weren’t responsible enough to own it so he took it for himself to teach them a lesson…..

    We went to the SAME bar and wouldn’t you know, as we were on our way home, the owner of the bike was walking up the boardwalk to the same bar… It was so funny the way he took the bike back in front of everybody and shamed my “friend”…. wouldn’t you know it was one of his neighbors! My former friend is a moron.

    • bluline says:

      Your former friend is a thief as well.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      Your former friend got off easy – I would have just called the cops. Gotten my bike back, and gotten your friend arrested in the bargain.

    • Difdi says:

      There’s this concept, called societal trust at play here, I suspect.

      I bet the bike’s owner is from a place with a high general trust level, while your friend is from a low trust society. He sees nothing wrong with stealing from an idiot, because the guy had it coming. But the owner didn’t consider it idiocy, since nobody would ever steal a bike. People just don’t do that.

      It’s like loaning a lawnmower to a neighbor. High trust societies expect to get the mower back when the neighbor finishes mowing the yard. And it works, if the neighbor is also from such a society. Of course, if the neighbor isn’t, he’ll be laughing his ass off at how stupid someone was to give him a free lawn mower…

  13. jza1218 says:

    It’d be hilarious to me if it actually turned out to not be his bike and coincidentally just looked like his

    • bluline says:

      If you’d owned a bike for 14 years and ridden it thousands of miles, you’d be able to ID it in a heartbeat.

  14. Republicrat says:

    Is it possible that the seller himself isn’t the thief and is just a victim of receiving stolen property from the thief?

    • humphrmi says:

      It doesn’t really matter. From a legal perspective, the courts have held that people who unknowingly buy stolen property have no legal claim to the property. From a moral perspective, yeah it sucks but he’s a victim of the guy who sold him the stolen bike, not the guy who took it back.

      • Coyoty says:

        If someone unknowingly receives stolen property that the true owner takes back, his recourse is to confront the person who gave it to him, not the true owner. If the person who gave it to him didn’t know it was stolen, then his recourse is to confront the guy who gave it to him, etc. down the line.

      • Velvet Jones says:

        Apparently that defense didn’t work for OJ.

        • humphrmi says:

          Simpson was convicted of robbery, not theft. Robbery involves taking something by force. OJ used a gun and broke & entered private property.

        • Mr. Bill says:

          O.J’s property wasn’t stolen but sold to pay for a lawsuit.

    • bikeoid says:

      Even in that case the Craigslist seller could be charged with possession of stolen property.

    • j2.718ff says:

      I was thinking the same. But it seems very unlikely someone would buy a used bike, and then quickly turn around and sell it (for what sounds like a bargain price). Were there months between the theft and the craigslist post, then an innocent seller is more possible.

  15. Alan_Schezar says:

    Note to self… If selling a bike (legitimately), don’t let the potential buyer take it on a test ride.

  16. El_Fez says:

    Why the hell would someone let a person take a test drive on a bike, letting someone out of the sight?

    • iesika says:

      He might have taken a test drive around the cul-de-sac… and then just not stopped. Try catching a bicycle on foot if you’re not a marathoner.

    • Difdi says:

      Criminals tend to have a very high opinion of themselves. They’re brilliant and very cool, everybody else is some variety of chump, idiot or pushover. So they underestimate people.

      It’s part of why most of them get caught so easily.

  17. Lyn Torden says:

    “Police advise citizens against taking the law into their own hands to get stolen property back.”

    They don’t really have much standing to say that if they can’t do their job.

    • ldillon says:

      It seems like there is a growing disconnect between what the police want to do and what citizens want the police to do.

  18. ibBevis says:

    “Police advise citizens against taking the law into their own hands to get stolen property back, but Danny is pleased with his actions”.
    Then the police wonder why crime has increased and there are more bullies are around.

  19. eezy-peezy says:

    Now if only I could find the lowlife who stole my mailbox….

  20. sendmoney2me says:

    ” Danny was perusing Craigslist and recognized his bike for sale for $100. He knew it was his because of a prominent sticker, and so he called the cops. They said they wouldn’t be able to get to it right “

    yep..they wouldn’t be able to get to it because they were too busy writing traffic tickets and busting jay walkers

  21. frodolives35 says:

    I know a few old boys here in Tn that would have made the thief really regret that crime. If the law will not protect society what are we to do. Don’t think I do not respect the rule of law I have 2 Kids and 2 son in laws in law enforcement. I could not imagine waiting for “we can’t get to it right now” I guess he could have set up the fake buy and called the cops right before the meet as a potential confrontation might have been an incentive for the cops to place a bigger priority on the situation.

  22. thor777 says:

    It’s great that the OP got his bike back and I’m happy for the guy, but the meeting could have ended in a very bad way….gotta be real careful nowadays

  23. dush says:

    Except now a criminal has your phone number and can probably look up your address based on that…

  24. Charmander says:

    How can you steal something that is yours in the first place?

    That said, way to go!!

  25. polishhillbilly says:

    Cops are there to fill out the paperwork after the fact.

  26. prosumer1 says:

    Good for him. Now to finish the job, track that son of a bitch down and put a couple of rounds in one of his kneecaps.

  27. shufflemoomin says:

    I’m not sure doing this to a criminal and then going on TV and giving your name and showing you face is such a good idea.

  28. atomoverride says:

    STUPID theif, you have to sell it in a neighboring town. Not the same town you are in. Also you got to let it cool down for a few weeks. Jebus these theifs now a days.

    ….oh and good job buddy, way to get your bike back. You should also charge your time / effort to your buddy who you loaned the bike to. Lesson here is DONT loan your stuff or money to people you know or dont know.

  29. CrazyEyed says:

    If it was stolen back in 1998, then its possible this guy stole his bike from an unsuspecting buyer who purchased the stolen item previous to that. The bike could have been bought and sold dozens of times.

    • madanthony says:

      It wasn’t stolen in 1998. He bought the bike new in 1998, and had it stolen a few weeks ago.

  30. The last angry man says:

    Classic case of what the new trend is. Police are “too busy” to respond to “petty” crimes, so people are starting to do what has to be done.

    He should have shot the thief, then took his property back.

  31. JollyJumjuck says:

    You just have to watch a stupid half minute ad first.

  32. Claybird says:

    Reminds me of Lt. Dangles bike incident on RENO:911….I can’t be the only one!

  33. oldwiz65 says:

    A bike owner should keep a record of the serial number of the bike and, in addition, engrave it somewhere easily noticeable.

  34. Insert nickname here. says:

    I reclaimed my stolen bike back. It felt great.