Somewhere out there, someone’s riding a bike that doesn’t belong to her. It’s a ratty old faded flamingo-pink ladies’ Schwinn beach cruiser, with tattered pink and white streamers at the ends of the handlebars. One side was down to stubble and a few streamers dangling down.
On the chain guard, it says “Cruiser,” and sort of still does on the frame, where it’s not peeled off. The paint is chipped and smeared with grease around the gears and wheel hubs, and the wheels are sprinkled with rust. Ditto for the white metal cage basket on the handlebars.
It’s a junker, all right. And I want it back.
Nearly six months ago, someone swiped my beloved old bike right off my front porch while we were sleeping. Pretty bold to steal something while the owners are at home, and underneath motion-sensor porch lights, no less. That’s a little too much confidence for comfort.
And no, I didn’t leave it unlocked, but it was only locked through the back wheel to itself, not to anything else. I was informed after the bikenapping that a bike locked this way can simply be lifted up onto the front wheel and pushed away. Ironically, some folks teased me about locking that bike at all — who would want it? It’s not the kind of bike some baby gangsta would want to spray paint matte black and trick out like a low-rider. It’s a completely uncool bike, perfectly suited for completely uncool me, and curses to the one who snatched it from my front porch.
No, really. Curses. May the hand you used to steal my bike be slammed in a car door, with each slender metacarpal snapped like a dry twig. May it cause you agony every time that hand is tempted to grab something that doesn’t belong to you.
Besides my bike, the thief made off with my pink and black bike helmet — one of those slick ones like real cyclists in tight shorts and funny shoes wear. And the head now in that helmet? May it be infested with head lice — the ones that are immune to pink lotion from the drug store.
Sadly, I’m not alone in my crime victimhood. Big bike crime in small town Winters is all over our police reports lately, and ditto for property crimes. If it’s on a front porch, it’s gone. And sometimes even from inside the house too. We’re starting to see major burglaries here, where thieves help themselves to everything from jewelry to computers. Plenty of crimes. But no arrests.
Somebody has figured out that Winters is easy pickings, and they have a routine. This is my theory: thieves sweep into town during the night and post their haul on Craigslist by sunrise. Here was my clue: The day after my bike was stolen, I found several similar ones on Craigslist in both the Sacramento and the Bay Area. Some were clearly legit, but there were others with no photos, for as little as $10. The sellers claimed they needed quick gas money.
I called our police chief and informed him that I think I know what’s going on with all the bike thefts in town, and all he needed to do was to send some undercover officers to purchase a few $10 gas-money bikes, and bingo: a rat’s nest of thieves. The chief responded that Winters doesn’t have enough officers to do undercover work. OK, fair enough, but surely you have some law enforcement pals in bigger cities who do. And let’s think outside the box here — bust the bike thieves and I guaran-dang-tee you that their “gas money” is used to buy drugs. Find the bikes, find the drugs. Boom. That should be worth an undercover Craigslist housecall or two.
In the meantime, here in Winters, let’s start “Operation Slimy Bastard.” Here’s how it goes down, Chief: Citizens would install hidden video cameras on their porches, trained at just the right angle to record faces and getaway vehicles at the curb. We’d get unclaimed bikes from the police department and leave them out on our porches as bait. Then, when the thieves slink up in the night, the heist is on tape. Roll the “Bad Boys, Bad Boys” song and round ’em up.
He chuckled at me!
No, Chief, I’m totally serious. And this plan’s not nearly as drastic as my other one: I leave a bike out on the porch as bait. However, that bike is hotwired. If someone touches it, he’s jolted with about 10 gazillion watts or volts or whatevers, and he flies up frozen into the air with his skeleton showing through like an electro-shocked cartoon character, and then sprinkles to the ground in a pile of charred criminal crisp.
“Aww, but what if it’s some little kid,” the chief protested.
“Not my problem,” I replied. “And, I’d be doing society and you a favor by keeping the little thief from growing up to become a big thief. It’s called natural selection.”
He wasn’t chuckling anymore.
Sheesh, if he didn’t like that plan, he’s going to hate my other to-catch-a-thief scenario, which involves laser-triggered machine guns and catapult bamboo poles with metal spikes on the ends, hidden right there under the front porch lilies. Touch my bike, bam. A mousetrap of human Swiss cheese. I just need to work out the potential collateral damage from ricocheting bullets issue (oops, sorry neighbors, I know you liked that dog), and I’ll be good to go.
Yes, I can envision this. You see, I’m infuriated that someone’s out there, riding my bike, while I’m stuck with my crappy old green one. Fury inspires creativity. So, just bring my bike back, no questions asked, and I’ll feel a little less creative, and I’ll go back to ragging on Republicans. And if you happen to notice an old green bike on my front porch, touch it at your own risk. You have been warned.