When a Seattle woman had her bike stolen on Monday, she posted about it on a bike club forum called Point 83.
"For us it’s a very personal thing,” said club member Scott Gamble. “It’s how we get to work. It is how we get with our friends. It's how we get groceries. It's how we play with our kids."
Right away, Point 83 members got to work. They quickly found what they thought was an ad for the stolen bike on Craigslist.
"We start emailing the guy,” said Gamble. “‘We like your bicycle! We want to buy your bicycle! Let’s meet up.”
They set up meetings with the seller at the QFC in Magnolia and Miller Community Center on Capitol Hill. The so-called seller didn't show up.
But once they got the guy's phone number, they found a treasure trove of information online: his name, a Facebook profile, his criminal record, even his home address.
"We were able to find a business name, from there track through Washington state business records to find licenses and addresses and go through and figure out where he was at,” Gamble said.
The members of Point 83 were originally compiling all the information to hand over to police. But one of the friends of the rightful owner confronted the alleged thief, and he handed over the bike without police getting involved.
"We're not trying to start a fight,” said Gamble. “We just want to get bikes back. And we do want to send a message: We are watching, we are looking. You steal from the bike community and you want to sell back to the bike community? We're paying attention.”
KING 5 is not naming the accused thief because he hasn't been charged with a crime. Our attempts to speak to him went unanswered on Friday.
According to a national registry, more than 700 bikes are reported stolen right now in Seattle.