How A Stolen Cyclocross Bicycle Found Its Way Home

How A Stolen Cyclocross Bicycle Found Its Way Home

The Bay Area cycling community rallied again this past week to help Leonel Quinteros recover his stolen Focus cyclocross bicycle through the power of social media.

Storified by Jenny Oh Hatfield · Wed, Nov 21 2012 18:03:15

Yesterday afternoon, I received an email from Chris Bondus of Cykel SF about a stolen bike.
“My friend JB just emailed me a picture of this bike that came into his shop today. It’s definitely stolen. Would you be so kind as to pass it along to those in the know? JB is CCed on this email as he’s the guy to contact if anything comes up.”
The message was from our mutual friend Jeremiah Davis, who works at Park Wide, the bike rental company in Golden Gate Park. 
I replied:

Thanks for the heads up! Jeremiah – can you give me more details? Which shop is it at and did you repossess it from someone who brought it in? Thanks! I’ll then post on FB / Google groups, etc. and see if anyone’s missing this bike.


Jeremiah responded: 

Hey Jenny,

This guy rolls by regularly at our bike rental in golden gate park for air. I’ve seen him many times and normally it’s junk bikes. He’s rolling this now. He story is off. I know where he hangs, but the bike is most def stolen.

Jeremiah’s instincts were correct; Leonel had already been posting on Facebook about the theft: 

How is this for luck I had my cross bike out on the deck because I had just washed it, came in to return a couple of calls , go back out to bring it in and it’s gone!! I’m on the third floor so I run down the back, out the side doors and there are cops everywhere because somebody was seen climbing up the fire scape two doors down!! fuck….
I went onto Google+ first and re-shared a post that my friend Alex had just submitted. Apparently news of the theft was already making the rounds in other circles, as my friend Vitaly spotted my post and tweeted at me:
Hey, @plattyjo, isn’t that the bike from G+? RT @misterlump: @Squadra_SF thank you! And a photo of the stolen bike Gashpar
Meanwhile on Facebook, Dan Horndasch had just posted on my Wall about the missing bike. 
<a href="" class="">Leonel</a> just had his CX bike stolen, from the Cole Valley-Haight area of SF, off his 3rd floor deck!<a href="" class=""></a>
As I wrote back to Jeremiah for more info — thinking that he might have the bike or know where it was — I replied to Dan:
DAN! I think the bike has been found!!! Message me for details ASAP!Jenny Oh
I started a search to get Jeremiah’s phone number so I could get more info right away, and after making several calls to mutual friends, Jeremiah got back to me by posting his number on my Facebook wall.
Calling you right now!Jenny Oh
Brilliant use of FB – kudos to both of you.Thirtyyearold Mulberryfield
Unfortunately, Jeremiah didn’t take the bike from the thief — but we’re very glad he took a photo and emailed Chris. 
I feel horrible for not just going with my instinct. He does roll by regularly, so I’m hoping he does tomorrowJay Davis
Jay Davis Hey, you got the word out, which is important! Hopefully we’ll find it! I’m spreading the word widely on Twitter, Google groups, forums…Jenny Oh
Jay Davis no way, you did all you could. can’t nab a dood for looking suspicious. Jenny Oh thanks for all you’re doing. this is a distinctive bike and the guy isn’t exactly a criminal mastermind, so hopefully a happy ending.Nio Anderson
After telling Dan earlier that the bike had been spotted at Park Wide, he and Leonel immediately headed over there. But as soon as I heard the full story from Jeremiah, I let them know that the bike and the thief were still at large. They searched the park for several hours with no luck. 
I shared another post on Facebook, issued an alert in the Stolen Bicycles Bay Area Google group, emailed several cycling groups and also posted on Flickr and Reddit. I received the following tip via Peter. Perhaps the thief had stolen an Orbea as well:
This guy caught on camera before stealing an Orbea Diem 11/19 from Roosevelt Way looks similar. Dark clothes, dark cap, white laces. What do you all think? Chu
But this morning, I received happy news from Leonel via Facebook that his bike had been found:
Jenny I just got a call from the cops , one of your friends helped find it, I’m on my way to meet them right now,. Thank you so much !!Leonel Quinteros
And Dave Vetrano had posted on my Wall that he had taken it from the thief:
So I got Leonel’s bike back from the kid that had it but then some guys in a black and white car stole it from me. ACAB.
Dude, you’re a hero!Jenny Oh
NBD! Tell Leonel to clean it with hot water, it had a syringe rubber banded to the stem. Doping!Dave Vetrano
These #dopers have gotta be stopped! #dontstealbikesbro #stolen #sanfranciscoSqueakyCleanDave
Will do! And how did you find it? :)Jenny Oh
Dude was riding it around 16th and Noe looking in dumpsters for food. I cornered him and showed him the Fbook post. I told him everybody I knew was looking for the bike and he said I better take it then. Easy!Dave Vetrano
You rock, dude! Leonel is going to be so stoked!Jenny Oh
Dave even delivered the bike to the police by bike:
So I found a homeless kid riding this bike around and when I asked him for it he just gave it to me. #dontstealbikesbro #sanfranciscoSqueakyCleanDave
Damn… It still even has Leonel’s name on the Top Tube! I’m stoked he got it back!Stefan Paszke
so awesome. any details on how it was stolen in the first place?Derrick Chao
Junkie climbed up the fire escape, 4 buildings down, waved to a gal in a window (who called cops), went across 4 roof tops, then onto Leonel’s back deck… 3 stories above the ground!!… down the back steps, and out the side service nook of the property. The bike had just been washed, and was sitting on the deck drying. The deck is in no way visible, from any angles, from the street. Figure he was just being a junkie, a rather adventurous one, and looking for an easy score.Dan Horndasch
I think we can all agree with this statement:
dave is bad assFred Cauthen
So how’s that for amazing? In less than 24 hours, Leonel had his bike back. A big thanks goes out to Jeremiah, Dan and everyone else who helped spread the word! I saw a lot of re-shares of the listing, so Leonel is indebted to all of you who helped circulate the news. You never know who’s going to see a stolen bike listing via email, social media or other means — so remember to share the news widely if you ever have a bike stolen!
Bike is back with its rightful owner , Thanks you allLeonel Quinteros
See you all at Candlestick this weekend !!Leonel Quinteros
so what happened to the perp?Kyle Minor
Kyle – It sounds like Dave concentrated on getting the bike back and not having the thief arrested. Given that he was rooting through dumpsters for food and there was a syringe taped to the bike, he’s a junkie and down-and-out. His life sounds hard enough, but hopefully he’ll steer clear of stealing any more bikes since he’s now a known entity!Jenny Oh
And given the perspective offered by some other cyclists, I hope the guy has his own recovery story — with his life — and receives the help he so clearly needs.
@plattyjo @slateolson @Squadra_SF @cykelsf @FocusBikes I read this as a homelessness/drug addiction story. CC: @spencerhaughAdam Myerson
.@AdamMyerson @plattyjo @slateolson @Squadra_SF @cykelsf @FocusBikes “he was looking thru dumpsters for food… I showed him the FB posts”spencerhaugh
@spencerhaugh @plattyjo @slateolson @Squadra_SF @cykelsf @FocusBikes I was hoping for "he gave me the bike and I got him some food."Adam Myerson