The return of the stolen bicycle

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What are the odds? Today I came across a story about a penitent thief in Portland, Oregon, who on Wednesday returned the bike he (or she) had stolen to its owner, along with an apology note and $10 to pay for a new lock. The chances of that must be one in a million, I thought. Then I saw that on the very same day, all the way across the country in Hoboken, New Jersey, another thief returned a bike he'd stolen to the police. Though he claimed he'd intended to return the bike all along, his more immediate motivation seems to have been the fact that his crime had been captured by security cameras and his face plastered on wanted posters all over the building where he'd taken the bike (he was charged with theft anyway). And earlier this year, near Dumfries, Scotland, a thief returned a bike along with a chocolate bar and a note of apology.

When did the world become all rainbows and kittens, anyway? I've had two bikes stolen in the last two years, and I did everything I could to try to get them back. I had no luck at all. I did hear about success stories, though: the woman who recovered her stolen bike from Swap-o-Rama on Ashland (I tried the same thing but didn't find mine); the bike shop mechanic who realized that a bike with locking skewers on the wheels, brought in by someone who had no idea what the skewers were, had probably been stolen and tracked down the real owner (still waiting for that to happen with my first stolen bike, which also had locking skewers). But I guess I have gotten a missing bike back, though it was sort of borrowed without permission, not really stolen. As far as I'm concerned, if you leave your bike unlocked you're asking for it to get stolen, so I probably deserved it when my unlocked bike disappeared from the rack on my college campus where I'd parked it before running in to class. There wasn't exactly a lot of crime in the small town where I went to school, and I'd actually given up on locking my bike months earlier. But a week or two later, I found it again—and I kept it locked up after that.

Sort of related: earlier this week in San Diego, California, a woman stole a goat from a petting zoo and returned it the next morning with a pink pedicure.

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