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Park Slope Bike Thief Leaving Notes Behind

And the police are very appreciative.

Losing something is bad, but when it's stolen it just feels like a personal assault. 

I know I shouldn’t have left my bike locked outside my building overnight, I know — but I was really tired. I live four floors up. It’s a heavy frame. I was going to use it first thing in the morning to pick up some fresh bread and fruit at the Green Market. You feel me? It was just for one night. Not even seven hours.

And yes, I Citi-locked the front wheel to the frame and the frame to the wrought iron fence that runs along the front entrance of my apartment building — a Landmark limestone just a block from Prospect Park. But whoever this thief was — man or woman — basically set up shop overnight and by morning had performed a successful double wheel-putation on my recently tuned up and perfectly functioning 15-speed mountain bike. 

I shouldn’t be shocked, I know that Park Slope is still — technically, New York — but with all the happy babies, Labrador Retrievers and MacLaren strollers, it’s just easy to get lulled into a false sense of Connecticut.

We are, after all, the land of Amy Sohn’s Prospect Park West, home to the progressive and acclaimed . Our community comes together via Park Slope Neighbors and Park Slope Parents. We have way over the national quota of artists, actors, writers, film directors, journalists. Our restaurants, coffee shops and bistros teem with hipsters. I am not one of them, obviously as I just used the “H” word, but you see what I’m saying.

I waited for Dixon’s Bike shop to open — 11 a.m. on Sundays — and hauled the lifeless carcass for 15 blocks, hoping for a miracle. The gentlemen at Dixon's bikes were extremely sympathetic and not happy with the sight of a bike they knew well. A bike they had fine tuned over the past couple of years.  

They gave me a low price on replacements — all things considered — but still, $250? I bought the bike used for $200. I was going to have to cough up money I didn’t have to pay more for a bike I didn’t really want. I should just start over. Get a new bike. One without a history.

I abandoned the frame at the shop and told them I would call with a decision in about an hour. It was either throw it out or man-up. I walked back home and when I got there was shocked to find a legal-sized hand-written note Scotch-taped to the spot where my bike was. It said, "Whoever owns the bike and two stolen wheels, I caught the guy and I have the bike and 2 wheels. Call 347-XXX-XXXX."

I walked around the block and saw more of these notes Scotch-taped to mailboxes and lampposts. I then passed by two other similarly disfigured 10-speeds, mangled, mutilated and chained to other posts. I wanted to be furious, but couldn’t help laugh at the nerve, the audacity and/or incredible stupidity of this person leaving their cell number. I could hear the conversation — 

Thief #1, “Just post a note saying, 'I caught the guy.'"

Thief #2, “That’ll work?”

Thief #1, “Damn straight, it’ll work — they want they’re s@*t back, right?”

And so the plan was hatched.

I ripped the notes off the lampposts and mailboxes and headed for the NYPD's 78th precinct, hoping to catch a thief. A cherub-cheeked, burly, made-for-TV police officer had his eyebrows somewhere over his head when he actually read the note himself — he couldn’t believe, as was the general consensus at the station, that anyone could be that brazenly idiotic. I was encouraged to file a report but disappointed when a sting operation didn’t take place on the spot.

It appeared the category of the crime was “Petit Larceny,” which didn’t rank high on the 78th’s list of priorities — I hadn’t checked the local news but I’m guessing things that aren't  — trump wheel-ectomies.  

When I got home, I called Dixon’s and told them "yes." Go ahead. Like Dorothy and the Tin Man did for Scarecrow after the Wicked Witch sent her flying monkeys to tear him to pieces — I felt an obligation to make things whole again.

But a word of caution to Mr. or Ms. 347: My bike won't be out on the street any time soon and, more importantly, the police are very interested in knowing more about "the guy" you caught. If you don't get in touch with them, don't worry — I gave them your number.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Johanna Clearfield August 19, 2012 at 05:30 AM
The police thought that the note was written by someone who hoped to get money by selling back the things he stole. This has happened before. That is what they thought. It is extremely creepy that anyone is telling me what I do or where I go or where I live who I do not know and have never spoken with. As far as your suggestion that I be "nice to my neighbors" I would suggest that you do not listen to hear-say or rumors or gossip and make judgments about people (myself included) who you do not know and who are not there to defend themselves. What you know or do not know is highly questionable and appears to come from standing on the corner talking to people who want to spread rumors. There are lynch mobs who enjoy much the same thing. They run after people they don't know and string them up based on hear say. "And when at times the mob is swayed to carry praise or blame too far" Robert Frost. I do not know you "John Barg" We have never spoken, I am not interested in whatever rumors or gossip you have collected. If you introduce yourself to me, I will be happy to immediately dial 911. I do not speak to strangers.
Marimba76 November 10, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Actually, you verbally assault strangers on a fairly regular basis, and I can attest to this first-hand since you chastised me this morning for not keeping my dog "close enough to me" on her leash when she was clearly secured and we were both minding our own business and not a threat to you, your dog, and any other park dwellers in the vicinity in the LEAST. Your nasty behavior was completely uncalled for, but apparently legendary: http://www.brooklynbreeder.com/2011/07/03/brooklyns-100-most-embarrassing-people-of-all-time-that-i-can-think-of/ http://www.fuckedinparkslope.com/home/prospect-parks-crazy-dog-lady-loves-pigeons-cats-too.html and my condolences to your poor neighbors. I hope your life gets better and that you get some help, as you're obviously a very unhinged, deeply unhappy person.
Johanna Clearfield November 10, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Because people gossip and share their prejudiced beliefs -- they are free to say anything and attack anyone -- we still have a free society. None of the gossip you are referencing has any basis in facts but since you wanted to have this conversation publicly, not by private exchange, I will answer in kind. This morning as I was walking up the hill in the park, I held my dog's leather leash closely as she is normally fine with other dogs but occasionally will bark or be agitated -- it is not always easy to predict how dogs will react to each other so I keep her very close to me as I walk - as a consideration to others. People -- like yourself -- who use extender leashes (which are illegal in some states) and are not paying attention cause a problem for people like me who make a point of controlling the movements of our dogs. Your extender leash was almost completely out and I hoped, as you came closer, that you would pull your dog closer so we could pass, but you did not. It is just a considerate thing to do, I am sorry it was so inconvenient. When two people pass each other, and both have dogs, it is mutually considerate to keep your dog close to you so that both can pass safely. As far as pigeons go, I have already stated I am a licensed DEC rehabber. See http://www.wildbirdfund.com Not everyone hates birds, not everyone hates pigeons. I care for all animals, regardless of public opinion.
Marimba76 November 10, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Hogwash, Johanna. When I walk my dog, I take great care to be alert of my surroundings, the give of my extendor leash as it pertains to surrounding walkers--particularly in areas with heavy foot traffic such as the path along the meadow-- and would never extend it fully or anywhere close to its full length unless we are in a remote area of the park. The leash length was nowhere near full extension when I passed you, and while it's true that I did not have my dog in a choke hold, to say that she was an inconvenience to other passers-by and impeding them from safe passage is ridiculous. You were the only one on the path frothing at the mouth, and to that end, while you are certainly entitled to your opinion, you would do well to give the "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" adage a try sometime when doling out unsolicited advice. Is attacking me "mutually considerate?" I was so baffled by your vitriolic level of hostility that how can I not believe others who have said they have had very similar negative run-ins with you? Are we all just gossipy haters, the whole lot of us? Just a guess, but maybe when your treatment of your Park Slope neighbors matches the kindness you extend to animals, the gossip will stop.
Johanna Clearfield November 10, 2012 at 10:25 PM
I do not know you and I will not dignify whatever baseless accusations you are making. I saw the posts you referenced and both were rife with lies. In one, There is a photo of a message I left to stop someone who frequently leaves stale bread and whole bagels out of misguided kindness. In an effort to stop him/her - I tried to educate by explaining that birds (pigeons or soarrows - both) cannot eat through hard bread and so the bread would just get moldy and attract rats, etc. Instead, the post somehow conflated my effort to sto this with my being that individual. That is only one of the many lies you (and apparently your fellow liars) use to attack someone (me) you don't know. You were incredulous that I asked you to reel in your dog - outraged, even-- enough to add more vitriol. It was a request for normal consideration but you aren't able to deal with it so need to join with sone very perverse and anonymous "neighbors" who have all joined a hare club. as far as my treatment of animals over people - every single animal advocate on the planet gets hurled that particular insult and the answer is that one doesn't cancel out the other.

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