Bike Stolen on Christmas Eve Is Recovered in Time for New Year’s

stolenDaniel Maurer

Evan McKnight, who discovered on Christmas Day that his $1,100 bicycle had been stolen from his East 10th Street apartment building, has recovered the bike and will end the year on a positive note – though he’s out $50 that he spent printing “Stolen Bike” flyers plus $40 that had to be paid to the man who returned the custom wheels after seeing one of the flyers posted at a local shop.

Mr. McKnight said that yesterday evening, a man came into Continuum Cycles on Avenue B to buy a tire tube for a bike he had purchased on the street the previous night. He told the rest of the story in an e-mail to The Local.

On his way out of the shop he noticed one of my flyers. He gets home to his new bike and after deducing that he’s in fact purchased a stolen bike from the ‘homeless man’ he decides to bring it back to Continuum Cycles. He speaks with my friend Jeff and tells him he doesn’t want the reward money he just wants his $40 back. Jeff hands it over out of pocket, and sends me a text later that night to let me know he had my bike.

Jeff Underwood, the owner of Continuum Cycles, said that at least once a day, someone comes into his shop complaining about a stolen bike, and complaints about stolen parts are even more numerous. (The editor of this blog had his locked bike stolen on the Bowery last month, a couple of months after having to replace a stolen seat.)

“Three times a day, someone comes in without a wheel or a seat post or a saddle,” said Mr. Underwood. “It’s constant.”

In 2008, the former messenger was instrumental in recovering a bike that had been stolen from the author of Bike Blog NYC, after it was spotted on Avenue C. That incident was recounted on the blog and made the cover of the New York Post.

Mr. Underwood said that after almost five years in business, his East Village shop has been burglarized three times (all in the past year), and during his ten years as a resident of the neighborhood, he’s had two of his personal bikes stolen as well. One of them was recovered when a friend spotted it on the Queensborough Bridge. In order to reclaim the $3,000 ride, Mr. Underwood had to reimburse a man who had purchased it from a fellow deliveryman for $200.

Six years ago, another bike was stolen despite having four locks on it. He made up flyers, and the next day, after the bike was spotted at a flea market in Chelsea, he was able to take it back with the help of a group of friends.

Still, Mr. Underwood said that most instances of bike theft don’t end happily. Asked how many times he’s been able to reconnect cyclists with their stolen property, he said, “Not as many as I want – a few a year.”

Mr. McKnight, however, can vouch for the effectiveness of posting flyers. He wrote, “At some point someone’s going to feel guilty about riding a stolen bike, or take it into a shop that will have employees that know who the bike really belongs to.”