Posted by: Jeremiah Graves | January 10, 2011

My Neighbors Want Me to Rob Them

My Faithful Readers (assuming there are any of you left after a shaky 2010 blogging season), I have a problem.

I want a bike.

I don’t want to pay a lot of money for a bike.

All of the bikes in Boston cost an arm and a leg.

This pretty much leads to the kind of quandary that can only be remedied by criminal activity. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to swipe someone’s bike and claim it as my own when confronted and eventually end up having to bury another body in courtyard at MIT. No, I’d prefer to avoid that outcome if at all possible.

What I’d really like is to find someone selling a slightly used bike for like $50. That seems reasonable, right?!

I don’t know any (sane) person in the Midwest who ever paid more than $150 for a bike. Heck, most of the time you can get a bike for less than my aforementioned target price of $50.

In fact, my brother has a bitchin’ one-speed Huffy with fenders and everything sitting in his garage he got for free. He got it and a matching ladies version of the bike and two kids bikes…for free.

Granted, bikes don’t serve nearly the purpose in the Midwest that they do here in the city, that much is a given. In the Midwest, unless you’re feeling adventurous, you pretty much drive everywhere.

I was home for Christmas and it drove (note the pun) me nuts how much unnecessary driving took place. We were at a mall at one point and drove from one end of the parking lot to the other, because no one wanted to walk that far. It was less than a block. We did the same thing when we went to the Applebee’s (yep, that happened) in the middle of the mall. We loaded the big ole SUV up and drove back across the parking lot.

Needless to say, it’s different and bikes don’t serve nearly the functional purpose they do here back on my home turf, but is it still too much to ask that we don’t rape and pillage a dude’s bank account for a bike?!

Anyway, all of that rambling leads me back to my main point: my neighbors want me to rob them.

Most of last fall one of my neighbors left a bike unlocked for months. I actually took it out for a test run once, only to find that the tubes in the tires were blown, it was covered in rust and neither the gears nor brakes wanted to work.

As such, I decided to put it back where I found it and give up on any notion of making it mine. Two days later it vanished for good.

This isn’t an uncommon occurrence in my neighborhood. There have been a slew of bikes—some of them pretty dang nice—just left unlocked and unattended for days, weeks or even months at a time.

This is largely unfathomable since bike theft is a pretty big deal in Cambridge, but somehow people have been dumb enough to leave their crap unlocked. I’ve yet to really swipe one of these bikes despite a desire to do so.

Mostly this is because I think it’d be pretty danged awkward to steal someone’s bike and then have them catch me riding it about the neighborhood a few days later. The other big factor has been the fact that my Mama taught me not to steal. Granted, taking an unlocked bike isn’t so much “stealing” as it is “liberating the bike from a careless owner.”

Unfortunately, the police and previous owner rarely feel the same way and will generally press charges.

Anyway, now that you’re all up to speed, we can hit on the real issue at hand. The real issue currently stems with a bike that is currently residing behind the dumpsters by my apartment.

I noticed it last Tuesday when I got back from Christmas vacation and was quite surprised to see that it’s a big bike and would actually fit my rather lanky frame.

I decided I’d give it through the weekend and if the lackadaisical owner hadn’t safely tucked it away or at least put a damn lock on it, I’d swipe it and claim it as my own.

Generally these things work out in a way that the bike disappears right before my self-appointed deadlines and I don’t have to get into any sort of internal moral dilemma. This time, however, that isn’t the case.

It’s Monday afternoon and the bike is still there, beckoning me to unshackle it from the hands of an uncaring owner…and then literally shackle it to something else so no one else can swipe it.

So, I turn to you, my Faithful Readers…what is a brotha to do?!

Do I take the bike, name it Captain Zoom-Zoom and lock it up to my fire escape until Spring comes and the previous owner has hopefully forgotten all about it and/or moved.


Do I leave the bike where it is hoping that the owner will remove his/her head from their sphincter and lock up their damned bike?!

Take it to the comments folks…help a brotha decide, the majority rules and voting closes at noon on Wednesday…you know, unless the bike is gone before then. In which case it closes whenever the bike disappears.

NOTE: I suppose if all y’all vote that I swipe that sucker, it would probably be in my best interest to delete this blog post as to avoid having it used as “evidence” somewhere down the road, huh?!

UPDATE: As is often the case, the morning after I legitimately contemplated swiping the bike, it was gone. As such, this debate has come to an end. Thanks to all y’all who chimed in with advice.



  1. Leave a note on it warning the owner? Have you considered Craig’s list?


    • I suppose I could leave a note. I’ve checked Craigslist, but the majority of what I’ve found is overpriced and/or in pretty rough shape and I’m greatly lacking the knowledge to repair a bike.

      If I were going to go that route I’d just take this quasi-bike. This thing has been lurking near our apartment for a couple of months as well. If I knew anything about fixing bikes, I’d be all over this thing…

      So I gotta know Carol, you skirted the issue a bit. Was that a vote for taking the bike or not taking the bike?!


  2. New Seat, Spray paint and the dude/dudette would never know it was theirs.


    • I’m going to count that as a vote in favor of taking the bike.


      • you may/or may not say that.

        On the other side add a basket and some streamers and know one would touch it. offer still stands for car though


  3. I urge you not to take that bike. By that I mean that specific bike. I have this prejudicial belief that anybody that feels the need to stash their personal items by a dumpster probably has a knife and would be willing to use it if they caught you riding around their neighborhood. I have full faith in your ability to give them the Ulitmate Warrior from the top ropes if actually saw it coming, but we’re dealing with the type of shady person who stashes stuff by a dumpster. Dumpster folk are sneaky shankers.

    I don’t think you should actually purchase a bike. I mearly suggest stealing the bike from a different neighborhood. Save your money and buy one of those kid carrier trailers that parents stuff their toddlers into so Grace can ride with you.


    • I like the way you think and Grace would totally dig one of those kid carriers.


  4. I say leave that bike it could be there to catch someone stealing them. I told you to look into shipping the bike I have.

    Yes we drive a lot, but it’s not always my choice.

    My bike was like $200 but it could probably withstand a 400 pound man jumping it off a thirty foot hill too.

    To sum up pay for shipping then I’m done with this bike. And if anyone needs a bike for a 4-6 year old girl – got one.


    • I told you we’ve got that huge box upstairs that the bike could fit in if we disassemble parts of it. I never got down to your place to measure that bike. Maybe when I’m back for the draft? It’s not like I’d be using it this winter anyway.

      Additionally, that puts as at two votes against stealing, one vote for stealing and one vote that is pretty ambiguous.


  5. Three things: Swipe that thing ASAP, and then delete any existence of this post. After that, write something about baseball. 🙂


    • I like your style.

      Yeah, I spent all day yesterday trying to come up with something but my Twinkies are in stand-still mode right now (and pretty much all offseason).

      I’ve got a few things I’m cooking up. Congrats on the gig with MLB Trade Rumors, by the way!


  6. My thought: take the bike, lock it up in the area you found it in, put your phone number on the lock– if no one calls you to claim it in two weeks, it’s yours.


  7. […] a year ago, I blogged about how my neighbors wanted me to rob them and y’all dispensed plenty of helpful advice to guide me to make the right […]


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