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.