Last week, our Technical Director Darren wrote about how it can often be more effective to broadcast a complaint or grievance on social media than to complain privately to the relevant authorities. Someone else who might be able to testify to that is 30-year-old Jenni Morton-Humphreys, who was recently able to track down her stolen bike with the help of a Facebook group, and put together a masterplan to turn the tables on the alleged thief.
The Bristol cyclist had left her two-wheeled vehicle tied up in the city centre, only to find the lock chain cut and the bike taken. Her first reaction was to contact the police, but she was not satisfied with the level of help she received. She then cooked up a plan to retrieve the Cube bicycle, but was met with strong advice against going ahead with it by the police.
Undeterred by this, Morton-Humphreys headed to the Bristol Cyclists Facebook page and posted an appeal for help locating her bike. Not surprisingly, the local cycling community was keen to help get it back to its rightful owner, and one member alerted her that he had seen it for sale online, and conspired with her on a plan to retrieve it.
The fellow cyclist, who has remained anonymous, contacted the seller pretending to be Morton-Humphreys’ brother, and arranged a meeting between the seller and his supposedly interested ‘sister’.
Accompanied by an incognito friend, the long-haired cyclist met the seller on a street corner, fooled him into letting her take a test ride, and promptly cycled away.
The bemused seller was left angrily texting the ‘brother’ whose only advice was:
“Don’t steal from the cycling community for a quick fix.”
As a bonus, Morton-Humphreys even found the bike in better condition than she left it, with a new front light in place.
Was this a good idea?
There are various questions that could be asked about the wisdom of Morton-Humphreys’ quest. There are always risks involved in colluding with strangers online, not to mention trying to pull a fast one over crooks. If she had stumbled as she tried to make her getaway, the story might not have had such a happy ending.
There could also be doubts over whether she was stealing from the right person. For example, what if the seller was a dealer or mechanic who had innocently bought the bike not realising it was stolen, performed a few touch-ups on it and decided to sell it on?
Then there’s the fact that the story is now online, and the scorned seller knows the full name of the individual who hoodwinked him.
However, the outcome is that she got her bike back – something that probably wouldn’t have happened had she not taken matters into her own hands – and for that reason it’s hard not to admire her courage and out-of-the-box thinking.