Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Devinci Drama

On Friday at 3:58 p.m., my bike was stolen, not just any bike, my Devinci Copenhagen valued ~$2,000 including upgrades.

Espresso brown sloped frame size XS, "Ride Like a Girl" stenciled saddle, carbon fiber seat post and handle bars, Thomson stem, disc brakes, clip-less pedals, brass bell, cat-eye bike computer, bike pump and mountain bike fender. The Devinci was my ride for two tours with Canbicuba (2010 and 2015). This is a picture from 2010. I LIKE this bike A LOT.
It was bought for my birthday in 2009 as a fun commuter bike. Bike parking was located inside the building back then. I stopped riding my Devinci to work when bike parking moved outside in 2012 and switched to an older Rocky Mountain hoping it would be less attractive to thieves.
Last year, during construction the bike rack sat in front of my office where I could watch it. I kept a close eye on anybody who approached and foiled one attempt to steal my old bike. This year, a bike cage was built under the fire stairs beside the employee entrance. It seemed secure, but I continued to ride my Rocky Mountain.

After a couple months with no issues, I gave my old bike to our son in Guelph. I started riding my Devinci to work. It was safe for a week.

The cage was locked with a heavy duty padlock. My bike was locked inside the cage with a cable lock. There are two video surveillance cameras capturing the cage and surrounding area from both sides. I can't see the cage from my desk, but I can check the cameras or lean out the door if I see anything suspicious. I watch for young men wearing ball caps and carrying pouches slung across their backs.

On Friday, there was a lot of activity back and forth past our office to the river. I noticed a man with a bright red pouch, blue cap and sunglasses walk past heading to the river ~3:50 p.m. He returned a few minutes later. Since he was walking in the middle of the street, I didn't lean out the door to see what he was doing. My computer was turned off. It was time to change into cycling clothes.

I was shocked a few minutes later when I walked outside to ride home and found the gate hanging open with nothing except my cut cable lock in the cage. The heavy duty lock on the gate was intact, but the bolts holding the latch in place had been removed. Nobody, including me, had considered how easy it was to remove the latch. Forehead slap! How stupid is that?

I went back to my office to report my bike stolen. Our Maintenance Manager headed out in his vehicle to search for the man I had seen and our Production Manager reviewed the videos sending an image to help with the search. As luck would have it, our Maintenance Manager spotted a man matching the description (blue hat, blue sunglasses, grey t-shirt, black/white plaid shorts and high top shoes) at Adelaide and Grey walking across a parking lot then up stairs to apartments located above a pawn shop. He no longer had my bike.

This picture was a screen shot taken with a cell phone. The video image is clearer, but not clear enough for facial recognition. A hat and sunglasses make a good cover on video. Thieves know this.
At 4:13 p.m., I sent an email to my husband; "Bike Stolen Need Ride". I was upset. He called right away to let me know he was on the way. We drove around the neighbourhood and past the pawn shop, but found no trace of my bike. It was gone and I was NOT happy.

We went out for dinner later that evening then spent more time driving around to see if we could spot my bike or see the guy who took it. We drove past the pawn shop a few times finding nothing.

Whenever we had spare time over the weekend, we would pass by the pawn shop and tour the neighbourhood. I reported the theft through London Police on-line, but my report was rejected with instructions to call on Monday, so an Officer could review the video. 

I was upset about the theft and even more worried about options for safe parking. Without a viable solution, I couldn't sleep. I love riding to work. It's one of my favourite things about working. I wrote about my route here - a perfect ride and safe when I parked INSIDE.

With no old bikes at home, I decided to ask if I could buy back my old Gardin from a friend at work who got it last year for his wife. She isn't riding because of a neck/shoulder injury. Happily he agreed. It's a pink and white road bike with down tube shifting and skinny tires. We have ordered a straight handlebar and brake levers and heavier tires. My husband will retrofit it for me to ride as soon as we get the parts. 

I have a heavy one inch cable lock to leave around the post in the cage. Once the latch is fixed and more secure, I will be riding a very pretty pink bike to work. Hopefully, thieves will leave this one alone. 

For the next couple weeks, I can park inside. My boss is on vacation and it is quiet in the office.

Now back to my Devinci Drama and the saga of my missing bike.

On Monday morning, I called London Police to report my bike stolen. A London Police Officer arrived in the afternoon to interview me and the managers and watch the video. He was very thorough, attentive and sympathetic. I was impressed.

At the end of the day, I decided to drive by the pawn shop at Adelaide and Grey one more time. I had watched the video and noticed a white van drive down the little street across from the cage before the thief arrived; then back out before the thief opened the gate. It looked suspicious.

Funnily enough, a van looking like the one in the video was parked behind the pawn shop. The man in the van saw me looking at him and motioned me on before driving out. I put on my signal and stayed put. He crossed the street into another lot to pick up a man I had passed on Adelaide. Again he motioned me on before pulling out on Grey St. I stayed put. I wanted to follow him and get his licence. I got it and gave it to the Officer. The van turned at the next corner. I carried on to my parents' house to pick up my poodle.

This is where the story gets interesting.

While I was checking out the pawn shop, the Police Officer was confiscating my bike. After leaving our office, he went to the pawn shop apartments. He found nothing, but when he walked out and looked down the street, he saw a woman walking my bike. He recognized it right away with Devinci and Copenhagen in large lettering on the frame. 

He questioned the woman and she claimed her boyfriend bought the bike Friday night for $240. When the Officer said it was stolen and he was confiscating it, she asked him to wait until her boyfriend came, so her boyfriend wouldn't think she had sold it. He waited because he wanted to see if her boyfriend matched the description of the thief. He didn't. I wonder if he was the man who got into the van?

When the Officer asked him if he knew the value of the bike, he said it was a 2007 and worth $1,500 new. He said it was old and beat up, but a bargain at $240. The Officer took the bike, put it in his trunk and returned to our office ~4:25 p.m. Our Corporate Development Manager tried calling me at home, then realized I would probably be at my parents' and called there. Because of my detour, I arrived just after my Mom picked up the phone.

I was thrilled to hear my Devinci had been found. My Mom went with me to pick up my bike. The Officer was still there completing his report. He filled me in on the details. I thanked him profusely for taking the time to look and for returning my bike. 

This is the list of stupid things these people did to disguise my bike:
Stupid thing #1 – removed and completely disassembled $150 clip-less pedals putting all the bits in a plastic bag - woman found walking bike with no pedals (my husband managed to reassemble them - amazing!!)
Stupid thing #2 – hadn’t finished camouflaging the frame with paint, brushed clear primer on recognizable Devinci Copenhagen frame (my husband is removing it with a combination of detailing spray, soft scrubbers and elbow grease - almost done)
Stupid thing #3 – removed cabling and put it back wrong, made adjustments to everything trying to make it work (My husband has re-cabled the back derailleur and made some adjustments - almost there)
Stupid thing #4 – painted seat, all metal and other parts in black and gold - tacky (thankfully my husband got most of it off using paint remover)
Stupid thing #5 – removed expensive water bottle cage and bar ends and lost the ringer on my favourite brass bell (my husband took a ringer off my new bell to make the old one whole, other parts will be replaced)

My Devinci is back; messed up, but back. I feel extremely LUCKY. I am lucky to have it back and lucky my husband is a magician with bikes. He has been working diligently to get it back to normal. I don't know what I would do without him.

Let's hope those fine folks who lost MY bike after paying $240 don't take offense to my luck and retaliate in some way. Let's hope that's the end to my Devinci Drama. 

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  1. Good to read the whole story - glad you've got your bike back...

  2. Perserverence prevails. Glad the police were diligent. Hermann suggested trying anti theft alarm that goes off if bike is moved.

    1. Good suggestion. I'll look into that.