Good Samaritan vs. Would you stop a bike thief?

The other day I was biking along, slightly annoyed that some dood passed me while I was trying to do speed work (so now I just felt s-l-o-w) when I saw two young men with their bikes. They were on the sidewalk with no helmets on bikes that SO did not fit their size. So automatically I just got irked. I passed them and noticed one was riding a bike on a FLAT tire. I muttered at the kid ‘you gotta flat’, he goes ‘yeah i know’.

I keep biking, annoyed that these probable bike thieves were on stolen bikes. Then I had the following conversation with myself:
Me: “Sparky – look at you, profiling these young men! Perhaps they are just out for a ride?”
Other Me: “I dunno. Those bikes look pretty stolen. This is Los Angeles, bike theft is the highest rising crime out here! Young men like that don’t just “go for a ride”
Me: “Aw come on. You are being racist. Go help them pump up their tire”
Other Me: “Fine. Let’s just help the bike thieves steal more bikes”

But “Me” won out over “Other Me”. I turned around and offered the young man to fix his tire. He happily accepts. The following ensues:

1. We pull over to some weird remote road (I was next to Los Angeles Airport, there isn’t anything immediately around there) and I become consciously aware I am alone with a possible bike thief who is a big dood, in a place where there is no one to hear me scream. “Other Me” starts bitching again.

2. Fortunately, “bike thief” is a polite young man who knows jack shit about bikes. We take off his tire, and I check out the tube. Couldn’t find a puncture, I was a total FAIL at trying to fix the tire.

3. His bike was trashed. Rusted chain, but at one point it WAS a very nice bike – a mid range cannondale trail bike.

4. I finally just asked him straight out: DID YOU STEAL THIS BIKE? I asked him that three times. He was like ‘nooo. I bought it off my friend for $50? How much do you think it’s worth??”

4A. THEN he looks at MY bike and goes “oooo how much did you pay for that? How much could you get if you sold it? Can I ride it?”

I’m like NO YOU CAN NOT GO NEAR MY BIKE (and “Other Me” adds in ‘you rotten bike thief’).
I told him my Trek 5200 (all Carbon) was only worth $25 on Craigslist if you could even get someone to buy it, and I bought the bike for like, $100 ten years ago. This is not true, obviously, but he was staring at my bike like it was a gravy train to easy dollars.

To be FAIR, he was very polite and did try to compliment me. The kicker is that his pedals were dual lock – one side takes clip in shoes the other side is a regular pedal. No homie of his is going to own a bike with locked pedals. *sigh*
I sent him on his way after telling him to not steal anymore bikes.

I leave you with this question: What would you do if you saw someone actually STEALING a bike?

7 thoughts on “Good Samaritan vs. Would you stop a bike thief?

  1. sarah, i had my own conversation with myself while reading this.

    me: what the hell? sarah randomly stopped to talk to criminals while defenseless and alone?

    other me: it WAS nice of her to help them. haven't you seen people walking in the rain and debated on whether to offer them a ride?

    me: yes. but i'm not crazy, so i didn't.

    so, i'm proud of you for helping someone. but i'm mad at your for putting yourself in a dangerous situation.

    and in your shoes, i wouldn't have helped, but i would have called the police and let them sort it out. same if i saw someone stealing one.

    • To be fair, I didn’t SEE them steal the bikes so I had no proof they were actual bike thieves. And I totally have picked up people walking in the rain (torrential downpours in new england are brutal)

  2. There was an episode of some show called "What would you do?" or something, sorta like Candid Camera, where they dealt with a "person stealing a bike" scenario. The results: young black dude stealing bike, people form outraged mobs and call the police, pretty blond chick stealing bike, people pretty much stop and help.

    Come on, Sparky, this guy demonstrates extreme dumbshittery by asking if he can ride your bike. Someone with social skills can think to themselves, "hm, I'm a guy, this girl is asking me if I stole this bike, I should probably not engage in conversations that will make her nervous or promote the concept that I am a thief/rapist/even faintly criminal-minded"

    This guy seemed to lack these social skills, probably increasing the chance of him actually being a criminal.

    I recommend you keep a spare bike chain blatantly wrapped around your fist next time you decide to help a pair of guys on a deserted remote road.

  3. The "me" that was the actual you should have been, "Yes, he's probably a bike thief. Stopping on our $25 Craigslist wheels is maybe not a good idea. We'll keep going."

    The "other me" who was the other you, and not the actual you, should have agreed with the "me" that was you, adding "We could cycle past at speed and brain the guy with our water bottle."

    I agree with Katie; it's nice that someone can still have a kind spirit. Now quit it, okay?

    This is where I walk away sadly, muttering something about "Bloody Colonials"… and I live in a country with, like, six guns.

    Huggs to your bad selves.

    • Aw thanks for the luv. I still hold out hope for humanity but I guess “Me” lacks the street smarts that “Other Me” was trying to display. 🙁

  4. Lady! I have to scold you first for putting yourself in that situation. That kid could have been some sort of psycho. But ok, I'm thinking your intuition told you that he probably wasn't that bad. But still, listen to the voices that scold you and remind you not to get involved when you're by yourself and in the presence of a possible thief at night! I mean I know you're a strong tough chick but come on now…..

    I could not help but laugh about you saying that your bike is worth $25. And I wanted to jump through my monitor to slap the kid upside the head and tell him to quit coveting said cheap craigs-list bike.

    And so okay, this is why I do not even leave my bike rack on my car in the parking garage at work and I bring my bike into my cubical so I can make sure I know the people who would like to steal it.

    Bad bike thief bad bad! *sigh*

    • I totally panic on behalf of people who leave their bikes on the bike rack on their car in the parking lot!! That noiz woudl be SO next to my cubicle! At my last job, I wasn’t allowed to bring my bike into the building; it was mandatory that it was at the bike rack in the garage. Ugh, I hated being nervous about my bike all day 🙁

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