Way back in March, a friend with some Moto experience decided to jump across to the dark murky pit of mopeds. She bought a pretty nice Puch, rode a few weeks and it was promptly stolen off the street outside a bar in a popular nightlife area of town . :( She was pretty pissed and talked to folks all around the area, trying to get info, even putting up flyers looking for the bike. A few interesting conversations occurred but no results. Weeks pass. Like a boss, she promptly buys another (nice, but not as nice as the original) Puch. End of Story? NOPE.
A weeks ago, an ad pops up on Craigslist advertising Puch Moped Parts. No frame, but an exceptionally coincidental gathering of parts. Sure white bikes exist, with wire wheels and E50's are the norm. But with black covers on both sides of the motor? And the same circuit pipe? And a Polini kit? And the same low bars with the little circle bar-end mirror? No way dude, that's totally her bike.
The 'tex' number in the ad was bogus, but the email worked. I made contact and got a phone number (burner phone) and talked with a gal about checking it out. She acted like she was talking with someone else in the room. They kept changing times and locations, and given the police's lag time and that the police said the owner herself had to ID the bike (or so we were told), the plan kept falling through. We'd set up a meet and inevitably something would screw it up... Eventually, Louis' roommate also made contact and offered the guy/gal partial trade in weed. This calmed the guy/girl down and we got an address, but the police lag time still messed it up. We tried this at least four separate occasions. The owner also was now directly texting with the thieves trying to set up a meet with them, her and a plainclothes Vancouver PD lieutenant she's buds with. But that fell through and they stopped texting back to her. On Monday, the tweakers re-listed the craigslist ad.
Throughout this process, factions emerge. Vulcans: We need the owner present to legally ID the bike, then await for Police before any confrontation. (Logic / Rules) Klingons: Let’s all go over there with baseball bats & fuck ‘em up. *high five* (Brute Force) Yeah, So Louis acts decisively on the Craigslist ad and sets up a meet with the guy. His plan is to get the bike out of the vehicle then confront him to walk away because it’s stolen. No Cops. End of plan. Arthur & I are able to convince him that the guy or guys could be armed, so maybe wait for the cops. This was also a reason previous attempts failed, because they wanted to meet at a residence, potentially full of potentially armed bad dudes. Like a champ, Louis is able to get the guy to meet up at a public space in broad daylight. The new plan: Arthur is a moped Noob looking to buy, Louis is a moped Pro, advising. They will meet with the tweaker/s and stall him/them as long as it takes for Police to show up, with or without the actual owner then we all of us confront tweaker/s.
What actually happened: Arthur & Louis are waiting near the Mall entrance for guy/s to show up. Jesze is waiting also near the entrance but separately like he doesn’t know them. I’m in the parking lot, very near the parking lot entrance so that I can talk to the cop ASAP when he shows. Tweaker arrives and approaches Jesze, who ignores him, then Louis & Arthur, who then all walk out to the parking lot. The second that happens I call Portland PD, case file number, The owner’s info etc… They don’t want to help, as we’re not the victim, but when I tell the dispatcher it’s happening now, they connect to a cruiser to head our way, looking for ‘Josh with a 65 Barracuda’. The police take FORever. Louis and Arthur are scrutinizing every millimeter of the bike, including the unmolested matching engine VIN. (which is a frame match because it's only had three owners ever!) They do their best, but it’s like 30 minutes they're stalling the guy. I can’t see Arthur & Louis & tweaker from my spot, so Jesze is filing me in over the phone from his better viewpoint.
Arthur was able to snap this candid SpyPhoto of the guy, claiming to be texting his GF.
Over the phone Jesze says, “ DUDE, we have to go in and snatch the bike NOW!” Arthur I guess was making like he was going to hit the ATM for money and tweaker followed him, leaving Louis with the bike all open out in the parking lot. So I whip the Barracuda around, and Louis, Jesze and I are franticly all tossing bike parts into the backseat. The tweaker comes running up " Hw- what the FUCK?!" . The bike is loaded, so I back up the 'cuda, running into the guy who’s pressed up against it. He turns to Louis, who says “ THIS BIKE IS STOLEN AND WERE TAKING IT WITH US.”…. There’s a small confrontation, but I’m driving away to put distance between the bike (my car) and the tweaker. As I turn the corner to leave the Parking lot, as if on cue the Police car rolls in.
I wave him down. Me: “Hi, are you here for Josh?” Police: “Are you driving a 65 Barracuda?” (smartass) I quickly explain the situation and he has me roll over to the service ramp by the mall. He calls in a description of the tweaker, who has fled his car and ran into the mall. After exchanging some info, we all head back over to the guys car. More police roll in, they’ve got cops checking the MAX & Bus stops, in the Mall. The first officer takes Jesze, who had his cell camera out during the confrontation like TMZ go identify a guy who matches the description, but it wasn’t him. The car was stolen, and full of stolen stuff, laptops, telescopic photo lenses, clothes, PSU student books etc.. Then a detective guy rolls up and starts CSI-ing the stolen car, after the officer talks with the owner on the phone and more paperwork & BS’ing we all split. Mission Accomplished. Turns out waiting for the owner to ID the bike was optional, kind of a ask for forgiveness, not permission situation …and a little teamwork and persistence gets shit done. The Officer we dealt with told us to 'Keep doing that Street Justice.'
Looking back at Monday now, it's easy to see some missed opportunities, but it also occurs to me how lucky the group of us got. (Guy was solo, public place, unarmed, no unwanted interference, etc..) It also occurs how capable TEAM JUSTICE was, our ability to form and stick to a plan & then adapt when it was needed. I feel like maybe it couldn't have gone better. I definitely know who I can count on in a squirrely situation. There are various ideas about what happened to the frame. Initially in phone calls it seemed like the frame was available but not included in the photos, as that might be too obvious for anyone who knows the bike. It also may have been sold for scrap. We don't really know. ALSO - everything above is totally from my perspective, it's quite possible I'm remembering wrong, or that useful details are distorted / missing, I certainly wish I was around for the confrontation when the tweaker and the rest of the guys were having at it.
'Piglet' -as rescued from it's thieves.