Like any bike theft victim, Sam Campbell was angry.
Back in March, he left his and his wife’s bikes unlocked in his parkade lock-up before they went missing.
“It was completely frustrating,” he said.
Campbell decided to do a little online sleuthing, and searched for his bike on Craigslist.
“Lo and behold, I find my bike immediately,” Campbell said. “An orange Norco.”
Campbell said the bike, which was being sold for $650, matched his to a T, including having the same fenders.
He hadn’t written down the bike’s serial number, so he couldn’t be totally sure.
“I couldn’t ignore the ad,” Campbell said. “I’ve got to try my best to recover the bike.
“My wife said I should be careful and my brother also said I should be careful, but in my gut I had to do it.”
Campbell set up a meeting with the seller in a Downtown Vancouver parking lot, bringing a friend with him to record the encounter.
When he met with the seller, he spotted unique markings on the bike that made him feel sure it was his bike.
He confronted the seller, telling him he was going to take his bike back.
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The seller claimed he bought the bike from someone else for $300 and then offered to sell it to Campbell for the same amount.
At one point the seller wondered whether the incident would “turn into a fight.”
The plan worked and Campbell now has the bike.
He said the confrontation was nerve-racking but “very satisfying.”
He does caution others about similar confrontations, saying “it’s not worth getting hurt.”
Laura Jane – executive director of HUB, a bicycle advocacy group – agreed, saying “due to safety concerns, we don’t recommend that people go after bike thieves themselves.”
Jane said cyclists should sign up for an online bike registry like Garage 529, saying cyclists often underestimate the importance of bike registration.
“It really has helped bring a lot of bikes back to owners,” she said.
– With files from Nadia Stewart