Stolen Raleigh Bike Recovered!


A little worse for the wear, it’s still good to have “Ole’ Blue” back!

This is an unusual story – I had to pass it along.  A couple of months ago, someone came on to Dad’s property, cut a heavy bike cable, and stole the beloved bike, “Ole Blue”.  The mid-1990s Raleigh had been kept in mint condition for  years.  I was sad to see it go and vowed to try and get it back.

This morning I had to run an errand with Dad’s car.  Two friends had advised me that the bike had been spotted numerous times at the Mission of Hope – a place offering free meals to those less fortunate.  Sadly, it is also a hubC200 pic for people with “problems” and is frequently a hot spot for the Cedar Rapids police.

Because of the recent sightings, I started keeping a U shaped lock in the car, figuring it would immobilize the bike if I found it.  That plan succeeded!

As I drove down the street at around 10:30, imagine my surprise when a 30 something guy was riding my Ole Blue right next to me!  The rider went to a convenience store and leaned the Raleigh bike against the wall while he was inside.  I nonchalantly parked the car nearby.  While he was in the gas station, I snapped the Kryptonite type lock in place.  It wasn’t going any where!

When the man came out, I was nice to him but advised he was riding a stolen bicycle.  He said he bought it from a man just ten minutes ago.  (Yeah, right?)  At that point I mentioned he’s been riding it to the mission from time to time and I’ve had friends watching him.   Adding that the police were on their way and that I planned to press theft charges, the individual quickly walked away.

RaleighThe police arrived five minutes later, spoke with me, and got a description of the person.  There were eight ways I could identify the bike as mine.  The cops decided that I was the rightful owner and advised me to take the bike home.

Once in mint condition, this bike has seen a lot of abuse in a couple of months.  Someone put outside hand grips on the handle bars.  The worn seat was taped.  The rear wheel was bent and I had to have it straightened at the bike shop this afternoon.  The right brake lever is damaged – likely from a crash which also marred some of the paint.  Someone even strapped a flashlight to the old headlight bracket.  The cell phone holder was gone.  The luggage rack was removed, too.  It looks like a much different bike now.

Despite the “urban customizations”, it is still the same old Raleigh I’ve ridden for twenty years.  Perhaps during the winter I can restore my faithful two wheeled friend to a little better condition.  But in the meantime, it’s almost a certainty that “Ole Blue” will go to Decorah and will traverse the Trout Run trail.

It’s always fun to hear stories of the good guys winning.  I vowed that I’ll never leave Ole Blue chained up outside again.  It’s good to have her back!  She was missed!

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a wonderful weekend.

Bradford, the Van Trekker

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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

22 Responses to Stolen Raleigh Bike Recovered!

  1. Steven says:

    So glad to see you’ve gotten Old Blue back! I can only imagine what losing it must have felt like. I think I would be crushed to lose my bike.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thanks Steven. It was a relief. In retrospect, I could have easily had the dude arrested (and probably should have) but he was a bum and proabably didn’t have two nickels to rub together. I almost feel guilty about getting it back – especially since there is a one year old Trek to ride.

  2. Pleinguy says:

    Great news Brad. Hope the bike gives you many more years of pleasure. Take care.

  3. Steven says:

    I forgot to add this …

    I have a software based, but similar, thing installed on my phone, tablet, and laptop in case they’re ever stolen.

    • Hi Steven,

      I looked at the site, and that is a great idea! We have a matched pair of mountain bikes that will go with us when we travel, and this looks like something everyone who rides can use…even for mopeds and motorcycles…although those might have to find a different location for it. Still, the concept is great!

    • VanTrekker says:

      I know of a guy whose house was burglarized (near Dad’s). They arrested the teenaged kid a few hours later in possession of stolen laptop. Not much happened to the kid… Imagine this – his dad is an accomplished, lifelong burglar. Uggggg.

    • Steven says:

      I did a little research on the web and it turns out a lot of news channels, law enforcement, as well as private parties using these to bait bike theives. An LA news station even busted a stolen bike ring.

      At any rate I’ve been researching locks since I bought my bike and trying to find something to give me peace of mind. Most of what I’ve learned about cable and u locks is pretty disheartening. The GPS trackers gave me a lot more hope though. Although I wonder if I’m just going overboard with this since I’m going to be in rural areas mostly.

  4. tinycamper says:

    So glad Old Blue is home again! Sure hope you can get her looking more like her old self soon! 🙂

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thanks! I took it for a ride last night and it’s going to need some work… a buddy has some old Raleigh parts and we’ll get her fixed up. It’s been a really tough week and it was nice to have something to brighten things up!

  5. Hi Brad,

    Glad you got your bike back, but something that would have been safer…put the lock on and THEN call the police before confronting the guy! First, it would have been more fun watching him scratch his head wondering where the lock came from, secondly, it would have given the police time to arrive, and thirdly, they would have been able to catch him red-handed AND keep you safe when you confronted him.

    Always think safety first when dealing with nut cases!

    • VanTrekker says:

      Great points, John. It would have been much safer to have had him wait until the police arrived. One reason I did it this way (anticipating he would flee) was that he had the bike since it was stolen but I did not have the serial number to prove it was mine. Oh, there are witnesses and such but often possession is 9/10 of the law. It was worth giving him a chance to elope before the police were involved. That way he got a break and the police knew his flight was likely for good reason. I should probably be more careful about my own safety but working in an urban gas station brings nightly dangers (and three arrests in two months!)

  6. Hi Steven,

    I looked at the site, and that is a great idea! We have a matched pair of mountain bikes that will go with us when we travel, and this looks like something everyone who rides can use…even for mopeds and motorcycles…although those might have to find a different location for it. Still, the concept is great!

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    I’ve loaded your blog in 3 completely different browsers and I must
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  8. Varmint says:

    Hooray! Always good to hear such news. You might want to take a hi-resolution pic of your bikes and their serial numbers to keep on disk and/or stashed somewhere on your PC & website. The website will have a time/date stamp on it that stands up to serious scrutiny when it comes to validating ownership. I started this with mine and added my son’s bike for just such a reason, as he’s in a college town where lots of folks use them for main transport. Having something distinctive makes ID easier “at-a-glance”, though. Again, congrats!

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thanks for the advice. I will do that! The bike is stored inside now – someone had actually come on to Dad’s property, cut the heavy cable lock, and stole it. If the old Raleigh was not such an unusual bike, it would have been gone forever. Thankfully, it was easily recognized.

      A friend contributed a new seat and I have a friend who can help me repair some of the other mechanical damage. It will be a fun winter project. Thanks for the comment!

  9. Dazar says:

    Glad you got it back, smart way to go about it too!

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thanks! I’ve been doing a little work on it already. The toughest part is the cosmetic damage to the paint but with a new seat on it and a good cleaning, it’s going to be fun to ride. The plan is to go fishing early next week – The old blue bike will likely make the trip!

  10. Jerry says:

    Hi Brad

    I’m finding another weird glitch on your new web site, only the current comments of the recent “latest” post from Oct 18th , OR the first post of the following month shows any comments. The other posts do not show a way to view the comments ?? Result is when I want to see your answer – nothing can be found. Besides last time I told you I could not post comments from my Ipad ? Maybe your WordPress is only Microsoft friendly ? Im using a Mac to view your page. Will try and see if I use different browser if it works better.

    Glad you got your bike back, I had the same cheap one stolen 2 times, once after a year it just magically reappeared at my house, the 2nd time I knew the guy & hounded him till it came back.


  11. Jerry says:

    Hi Brad

    Either by magic or your great computer programing skill I am able to see the comments and post with my iPad . Thanks for fixing the issue

    YAHOO !!