Recovering My Stolen Bike In 30 Minutes Or Less

Photo by Simon Li

Muni rider Suzanne’s bike was stolen from the 38-Geary, but just when she thought she might never see her bike again, it resurfaced less than half an hour later. Read on.

My bike got lifted from the 38 right as it pulled into the Tenderloin. I ran off and tried to chase him down, but my out-of-shapedness prevented that from being fruitful.

I am lucky, lucky, lucky that no more than half an hour later, I found my bike. Several blocks away. ON THE FRONT OF ANOTHER BUS.

I had already called 311 to file a report with the police and tweeted out my bike description. A friend tweeted back and said many thieves go to the Civic Center farmers’ market for a quick hustle. I went down there, talked to security, where they said 7th and Market is where all the stolen goods get sold.

I waited there with my brother-in-law and decide to file a report directly with Muni. As I’m saying my last sentence to Muni over the phone, another bus on another line pulls up with my damn bike on its rack.

We stop the bus, someone gets out to grab for it, security cuffs him, bus driver says “no, that’s not the guy who brought the bike on,” he gets let go and justice will be served to the actual thief another day, probably in bad karma.

But I got my boomerang bike back.

Morals of the story:

* Before anything gets stolen from anywhere, write down your bike’s serial number. Do it now. The internet will wait.

…Back? Good.

* If you think you can do so, get out and chase that m-fer down. Or at the very least, get out. If for nothing else but being in close proximity to the scene of the crime.

* But before you get out, REMEMBER THE BUS NUMBER. Not the route number, the individual bus number. I think it’s a big number above the front door. If you do just that, Muni can possibly pull video.

* I was in too much of a panic to take note of my surroundings, but knowing what time and stop (or intersection) I realized it was gone would have been very helpful.

* If it’s near downtown, go by Market and 7th immediately. That’s where they buy and sell stolen shit. I also hear the Ashby or Richmond flea markets are rife with stolen property.

* Call 311 and file a report with the police. I also called Muni directly and filed a separate report.

* Before you board, lock the bike through the wheel. It won’t prevent it from being stolen, but it would slow down a thief who won’t be able to ride away with it!

We found Suzanne’s story via our earlier post about whether you should chase a Muni bike thief. Suzanne advocates running after the thief, while other commenters disagreed. What do you think?


  • Hey, thanks for publishing my story! Didn’t realize it was going to be a whole new post, but I hope it helps someone.

    As for chasing the thief, I did it because I knew my brother-in-law was with me, and when they got away I was able to fetch security near 7th and Market. YMMV.

    Also, huge thanks to @jenny_klug, my friend and bike nerd who told me about the Civic Center. I owe her a thousand beers.

  • Jesse

    Put a u-lock on your front tire and frame to prevent the whole incident. Bikes still fit on Muni racks with a u-lock attached. Most crimes are crimes of opportunity.

    I’m glad you got your bike back!

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