Bikeless in Philadelphia — again

The frame looks like this, but all scratched up

I rarely blog about myself. I prefer the veneer of fiction when it comes to personal matters, so when my bicycle was stolen Monday, I blogged about the thieves in business and government who prosper at the expense of the poor and near-poor. The usual stuff.

But I’m still angry about losing my bike. I’ll probably never meet the Koch brothers or Gov. Tom Corbett and the other creeps who rob us from afar, so I’m content to simply bitch about them. And yet it seems somehow unfair to me that a street thief should remain as unaccountable and inaccessible to me as his white-collar brethren. It’s as if I’ve unwittingly bought into the societal double standard that the Goldman Sachs crooks rely on to stay out of prison.

As Celine wrote:

Poor people never, or hardly ever, ask for an explanation of all they have to put up with. They hate one another, and content themselves with that.

I’m still on the lookout. The theft took place outside a shop on Eighth Street where I’d stopped for a coffee to go. There was no place to lock up the bike (Iron Horse, black, hybrid, 26-inch wheels), and it was gone so fast, it was like magic. I didn’t even see the thief.

I reported the theft to police then drove around South Philly in my car for a few hours, not sure what I wanted more, to get back my bike or get my hands on the guy who stole it.

I tried to think things through. If I saw someone on the bike and ran him over, then I’d ruin my bike and probably go to jail. But if I stopped the car and shouted “Hey chump, that’s my bike,” he’d keep peddling and disappear before I could catch him on foot. If I saw him and called the cops — well, most of you probably know how much good that does, so I’ll spare you a rant about our lazy men and women in blue.

It seemed best to cut directly in front of the thief, to make him stop riding, then jump out of my car and nail him. But I didn’t see my bike on the road, so my prowling was a waste of time, as were my visits to various bike shops and pawn shops. Street thieves can be pretty stupid, but usually not stupid enough to try to sell a bike to a store anywhere near the crime scene.

I saw bikes locked to poles all over South Philly and slowed my car for a close look many times, much to the annoyance of drivers behind me. I found that, if you really look hard for a stolen bike, you can drive yourself crazy thinking you see it then realizing you don’t.

I’ve checked craigslist to see if my stolen bike is for sale. I’ve searched again in my car — I normally use the car only for certain long-distance trips or to transport heavy stuff — but I suspect the thief probably has painted it a different color by now, put different handlebars on it, and so on, an infuriating thought.

A friend told me to “let it go” and move on, to accept the theft as part of the downside of life in the city. After all, if you ride more than 300 days a year in a town run by people too dull and backward to even install bike racks on a large scale, then your bike will eventually be stolen. In fact, I’ve lost several bikes to theft in the past decade, one of them right out of my house.

But moving on is easier said than done. Off-road bikes are too low to the ground and slow, skinny-wheeled racers get too many flats, and a used hybrid that looks shabby (so as not to catch the eye of most thieves) but rides great is extremely hard to find, and usually costs more than I can afford.

I’ll put the theft in perspective soon. Meanwhike, I’ll also continue to console myself — my apologies to hippies who read this — with the thought of what I’ll do to that thieving prick if I catch up with him.

This entry was posted in bicycling, economic collapse, fiction, Goldman Sachs, Great Recession, livable cities, Philadelphia, The New Depression and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Bikeless in Philadelphia — again

  1. sunnysidesub says:

    Sorry to hear of the loss. A thief got your bike but he/she also got some bad, bad karma. Great writing, by the way.


  2. Pingback: Suburban Guerrilla » Blog Archive » Bikeless in Philadelphia — again!

  3. Margaret says:

    This post reminded me of the red car we used to share when we were commuting to AC ages ago. It got stolen but then was recovered six months later. In fine shape … except for the metal foot that replaced the gas pedal and the ah-OOOO-ga horn the thieves had installed.


  4. Steph says:

    I’m feeling the exact same way today. I came home from work this morning and my bike was STOLEN from in front of my OC apartment where it was locked up. Everyone keeps telling me that I should not have left it outside overnight while I was at work. Normally I ride to work and it would have been left outside locked up there overnight anyway. The major bummer is I just got the bike a week ago as a birthday gift to replace my car that was stolen and stripped a few months ago. (Apparently the universe does not want me to have transportation.) I reported it to the police, which I understand is probably useless since the police are regulating child flash mobs in CC. So now, like you, I am online looking for an affordable hybrid for sale. With any luck maybe mine will appear on sale in good condition soon.


    • I think you’re right, the gods want you to walk, or spend a fortune on public trans… It’s hard work trying to keep a step ahead of the vultures, isn’t it? Look on craigslist every day, it only takes a second, and put in a call to local shops. Sometimes stolen bikes do turn up. The only thing cops ever do is act as if you’re imposing on them… I hope you get your bike back, or find a used one that cheap but reliable. I’m still looking for mine, or for a replacement.


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  6. Alex says:

    I’d say that luckily my bike only got its front wheel stolen the other day, but it still sucks. My whole bike got stolen a little while back and I dove into an entire three day weekend of flyering the area. Eventually, I got a call and it was returned. However, it killed my spirit a little. Cyclists are amazingly nice people and it really makes you think about the world we live in.


    • oddmanout215 says:

      I’m glad to hear you got the whole bike back after the previous incident. That’s pretty amazing… After a while the question becomes “How many different ways can I lock this bike up to keep it safe?” I’m at the point where I consider myself lucky if I can hold on to a bike for two years without it being stolen. I had some success with my last one but now it’s gone and the question is where to find a good, affordable hybrid bike? Still working on that one.


  7. Pingback: Back in the saddle. Bike thief still at large. | Odd Man Out

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  9. Pingback: Yo, Daily News! Bike theft more than ‘pesky’ | Odd Man Out

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