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Posts Tagged ‘crime’

I recently sold a dresser to a guy through Craigslist, and upon delivering it realized that my buyer was Ron Heathman from The Super Suckers.  I’m no Super Suckers fan, but I know enough about them to appreciate how cool it was to be standing in this guy’s apartment, talking about music, furniture, coffee and life.  It made me think about how cool Craigslist is, how it brings interesting people together, how it makes great transactions possible, and how it is a picture of the possibilities and perils of a free market. And so I introduce Craigslist Chronicles, a column about interesting things that happen through Craigslist (or ebay, since ebay is basically the same concept but with fees, rules, and less awesome).  My hope is that others will contribute as well, so please start collecting your stories now.

For my maiden voyage I will tell of my stolen bike, and how I got it back.  I woke up one Saturday morning to find my 1960’s Raleigh 10-speed stolen.  It was my fault really because I didn’t lock it.  I figured it wouldn’t be worth stealing.

I initially didn’t grieve the loss too much, since I’d gotten the bike for free, but began to become more and more bothered by the loss as I considered that Jana had the matching she-bike, which was pretty damn cool.  Plus, I didn’t have a bike now, so I was going to have to go buy one.  Plus, that was my bike, and it had my cup holder, my lights, my recently purchased seat, and my son’s child seat attachment.

On Sunday morning I was struck by a thought- if I had stolen a bike, how would I go about selling it?  Put it on Craiglist, probably.  And with that thought I went on Craigslist and typed in “Raleigh bike” and boom, there was my bike, stripped, cleaned-up, and for sale for $80.  Now I ask you dear reader, what would you do if you were in this situation?

I called the number in the ad and left a message: I’m interested in the bike, please call me.  I went to church.  I asked all my friends at church what they would do, and I soon had a posse of about 20 guys who just wanted to the time and place to meet to go take the bike by force.  But what if the thief is a violent man?  Or what if he calls the cops on me?  No, I had to go through legal channels on this.  But how would I prove the bike was mine?  I had not registered it, did not know the serial number, and really didn’t have any pictures.  In the meantime, the guy with my bike had called me back and we had set up a time to meet.  His name was Nicoli, and he was from somewhere in the former Soviet Union.  He sounded like a cool guy.

I called the police and hoped to just convince him it was mine, and show him Jana’s matching bike, and just generally win him over with the Pete Deeble charm offensive.  That didn’t work, but the cop agreed to look at some photos on my computer, and we found one of Luke sitting on the bike.  The picture was really just of Luke, but you could make out one small part of the bike- the stem that supports the seat, with a small rust mark across it.  We blew it up, printed it out, and the cop agreed that if I could show him the same mark on the allegedly stolen bike, he would take necessary action.

And so we drove over to Nicoli’s place, near Anaheim and Termino, and the cop and I mapped out our sting operation.  I would approach on foot, ask for a test ride, ride over to the cop who was parked around the corner, and go from there.  The plan went off without a hitch, I showed the rust mark to the officer, and it was on.

Naturally, Nicoli claimed he had not stolen the bike, but had bought it from some other guy.  I would have taken my bike and dropped the whole thing but I wanted my cup holder, lights, child seat attachment and seat (they switched out the seat for some reason).  Nicoli swore he didn’t have those things, but said he’d buy me anything I wanted.  The cop threatened him that I would press charges if he couldn’t produce these things, and before I knew it we were on our way to the place he had bought the bike from.  I rode my newly reclaimed bike, Nicoli rode with the cop.  Soon we were at a dumpy garage near Temple and Anaheim and speaking to an old Asian man who, wouldn’t you know it, had some bikes for sale.

The man denied knowing anything about the bike, then claimed to have gotten it from Salvation Army, then claimed to have bought it from a kid down the street.  Meanwhile I was able to locate my things in his garage.  While the cop had been rather slow to show much interest in my bike up until this point, the prospect of busting a petty crime ring seemed to get him buzzing a little bit, and soon another cop car was on the scene and they were running serial numbers on some of the other bikes for sale.  Soon, I had all of my bike parts except my cup holder.  Neither Nicoli nor the old man seemed to know anything about it, so I told them I’d drop the whole thing if they gave me $20.  Nicoli told the old man that he “owed him big time” and pulled out a $20.  So I had my bike, all my parts, and $20.

I rode my bike home, and the cop dropped by later to deliver some of the parts I couldn’t carry on my bike.  Apparently they weren’t able to make a bust, because none of the bikes were registered.  Nicoli called me and apologized, and told me that if I ever need any bike parts, give him a call.  I told my friend Josh about the incident, and he told me that he knew Nicoli and had gone riding with him before.  Nicoli told me that he bought the bike off the old man for $40.  My guess is that the old man bought the bike off a kid on the street for $20- there’s no possible way he got it from Salvation Army, and I really doubt he personally stole it from my porch.  I think a kid was walking by, saw an unlocked bike, and figured it would be a free ride and maybe a little cash, and he was right.  So think about that: in two days the bike changed hands three times and in the process went from stolen to $80.  That’s a lot of criminal activity for a very minor reward.  For me, it was the ultimate vindication for all the times I’ve had something stolen and thought ‘I’d give anything to find the guy who stole this.’  For one sunny afternoon, I got to see almost everyone involved in the taking of my bike, and I actually got it back.  It was awesome.

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I realize there was a shooting involved in this story… but it was a dog.  I see at least 3 cop cars and enough yellow tape to seal off a whole town.  However when my neighbor’s house was broken into while she was home and she was confronted by the burglars – who then went on to immediately try and break into my house while my wife and baby were home and then my other neighbor’s house who was also home – only one officer arrived (after 10 minutes, and they were long gone) and he interviewed only my neighbor for a few minutes but not my wife or other neighbor who saw the thieves.  What gives? Do you really need a forensics team on the killing of an animal?  Where were they in our neighborhood situation?  Not interested in tracking down witnesses of actual crimes… just rabid dogs?

Get your s*** together.

photo credit: Samuel Lippke

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The Tigers are over .500 (for the time being), all is well…or at least all should be well.  The fact that the Motor City Kitties are number one in the [measly] AL Central and that the Red Wings are in the NHL Western Semifinals are simply not enough to pick up the pieces in Detroit, which has an unemployment rate three times higher than the national average.  I read an article from April 1958 in TIME, which mirrors much of the current situation.  When the nation gets a cold Detroit is the sore throat and runny nose.

Would you like a home for less than $8,000?  Maybe you ought to try Detroit.  And with the recession and resulting unemployment inevitably comes poverty.  And if you decide to buy a home in Detroit, I hope that excessive crime doesn’t bother you…

I guess the point of all of these dreadful bits of information regarding Detroit’s amplified state of recession is to ask this question:  What can be done for Detroit?

Perhaps you, the reader, would respond in one of these ways:

  1. Nothing can be done for Detroit, let her rot.
  2. The best thing that can be done for Detroit is to let the recession run its course and the markets will eventually fix themselves…maybe after several thousand more violent crimes.
  3. The federal government needs to help out Detroit.  More handouts and deficits!

Many more responses can be added to this list, but in general they all lack the ability to solve this problem rapidly or without major repercussions in the long run.  My only proposition is to do what is most human, and what is most human has been demonstrated through God’s will, especially as expressed though Christ.

‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.  Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”  Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?  And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?  And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?”  And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”’

Maybe these are some practical resources:

In the meantime, when looking for a sports team that properly reflects the current condition of the City of Detroit, look no further than last season’s record-breaking Lions.

Yes We Can

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Thought I’d turn your attention to a bit I heard on NPR last night about new technology that tracks down taggers as they are in the process of vandalism.  I hate graffiti… hate taggers… hate vandalism.  Here’s hoping this technology works and the criminals pay their dues.

–Too bad we can’t have the wall that sprays paint on the taggers like shown in the movie The Naked Gun.

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econMany of you have heard of the broken windows theory, the idea that stopping petty crime helps lead to a reduction in overall criminal behavior.  This has been heavily publicized regarding Rudy Giuliani’s efforts as mayor of New York and their crime reduction.

Well The Economist has an article talking about a Dutch experiment to verify this theory.  Very interesting read, I recommend it.

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