Help!: Santa Monica cops won’t use evidence to recover my stolen Trek Madone!

I have an issue for which I need some advice. My Trek Madone bike was stolen right on Main Street in Santa Monica August 27th. It was locked, they cut through it while I was in a restaurant with my mom getting a quick bite on our way home from a ride. Let’s just leave it at that re: the locking of the bike. I reported the bike stolen w/ Santa Monica PD and to Bike Index.

So I get a text two months ago I posted this for the first time on BF over a month ago, but got no response so I’m posting here) from a wonderful person from this community with a pic and link to a post and lo and behold, my bike is on sale on OfferUp from a dude in Gardena, and I immediately flag it and tell the detective in charge of my case that I found it!! I contacted the Santa Monica PD and flagged it on OfferUp. OfferUp then contacted me and asked me for all pertinent info and that they would work with the PD, but I have a feeling that when they flagged the guy’s post, they likely freaked him out and he might’ve gotten rid of it or…I have no idea.

I have the receipt for the bike, the serial number, I know it’s mine because there is a distinguishing mark on the bike, a 10 inch portion of the rear stay that I had repaired a few weeks after I got the bike and got in an accident. I can see it, plain as day, in the picture on the OfferUp post. I also contacted the repair shop where I got it fixed in Santa Monica 6 years ago. I called them. They have the invoice, but no pics associated with it…which is highly unusual, they said, but it HAS happened with several of their repair pics, since they switched over their invoicing system when they moved from SM to Tennessee a few years ago.

After a lot of back and forth, The detective that Santa Monica PD says he can’t get a search warrant unless I have a pic w me and the bike showing that distinguishing mark which would prove beyond a doubt that the bike is in fact, mine. Well, I don’t take that many pics in the first place and when I have, I almost always frame the pic so that it’s the upper half of my body, which would only show the top of the bike and not the rear stay towards the bottom…of course.

What seems odd to me is that it isn’t enough for the police to say “Here’s the receipt this guy has for the bike. We need to see the serial number. Oh look, it matches, great, here’s your bike back, Mr. Jablon.” But apparently it isn’t.

So with all of this evidence, the SM PD STILL says they can’t do anything about it, that they can ASK the guy to let them see the bike, but that they can’t knock on his door and legally ask to see the bike…even though he claims to have ID’ed the seller!

I have since spoken to a close friend who is an attorney and he contacted the SMPD and awaiting a reply.

Can someone please enlighten me as to why this seemingly obvious course of action is not being followed?

I also included a time-stamped pic from right after I bought the bike but BEFORE the damage was done to it, which seems to be the point of contention.

My last question is…what if there hadn’t been ANY damage to the bike? Then we’d have absolutely NO cause to match the serial number?? That seems insane to me!!!

Update: My attorney friend talked to the police and he got the same response. Also emailed OfferUp again and got no response. This is a lot of fun.

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I don’t know the situation with SMPD. Only a few PDs are fully engaged to help people recover their stolen bikes. Here are some suggestions.

  • Ask your local bike group for support.
  • Arrange a buy, and tell the PD that you will be present at a specific date, time, and place to buy back your bike, and that you would appreciate some backup in case it turns violent. You would be doing the asking to see the serial, not the police.
  • This is a high-risk situation and I don’t recommend it: bring some muscle, arrange a buy, then just take your bike, while one person records it on video. Some thieves will back down, but there could be that one armed and violent thief.

Steve, respectfully, I’m way past all of that. I did try to buy it, got no response then contacted OfferUp.

Marc, really sorry to hear this. I read your post while trying to hunt down my stolen tri bike and was expecting zero help from the police when/if I found it. I recently recovered my bike after monitoring Craigslist, OfferUp and Letgo for 3 weeks after it was stolen. I spotted it on OfferUp and my husband posed as an interested buyer. He was able to arrange a meeting place and we called the Mesa, AZ PD to ask for what is called a “civilian standby”. The bike was stolen from my sister’s walled, gated backyard in Tempe, AZ over the course of 90 minutes while we went to lunch. I suspect that someone saw me bring the bike into her backyard through the gate (which I locked) and then observed us leave for lunch and took the opportunity to climb into her yard and chuck the bike over the wall (it sustained a LOT of cosmetic damage as the idiot then took a can of red spray paint to it). Mesa PD would not arrange a “sting” operation of any sort even though we were positive from the photos posted by the seller that the bike was mine. We were told to call an hour before the meeting time and an officer would be sent to meet us if one happened to be available. I get it, they are dealing with actual emergencies and a stolen bike is at the bottom of their priority list. The first time we called, no officer showed up and the meeting time came and went. My husband had to force the issue by telling the dispatcher that he was going to meet the guy regardless if an officer showed up or not, and that got an officer dispatched. The police do NOT appreciate being put in this situation but my husband was bound and determined at that point and was going to get his brother in law (who looks like a Hell’s Angel) to join him in meeting this guy. Anyway, two Mesa PD officers met me in the parking lot in front of the apartment complex where the seller lived (not too bright a guy, or maybe stoned out of his mind) because he gave us his home address and walked right by with my bike to meet my husband with the cops and me standing about 50 feet away in the parking lot. My husband instantly identified the bike as mine from the pedals, power meter and other components and the officers walked up and cornered the seller for questioning. They ended up arresting him as he was on felony probation and had a prior felony on his record as well. So…ended up getting my bike back, albeit in terrible condition, but we pretty much had to take matters into our own hands to accomplish this. I was thoroughly chastised by the officers for allowing my husband to do this, but it got the bike back. I’m not recommending this sort of action at all but Tempe PD had done nothing with the information I gave them when filing the report and I’m quite certain I would have run into the same situation as you. Basically followed Steve’s bullet point #2 suggestion and luckily found success. The meeting place must be public and try to work with the police as best you can - unfortunately it may require pissing them off a bit - it is up to you.