On the Trail of the Not-So-Bright Tricycle Thief –

A San Antonio Detective Tale


The morning solitude of our room at the Dallas Westin Galleria is pierced by the warble of our cell phones.  It’s Carlos, our painter: “Your bike is missing.”  Sometime between 8:30 pm on Wednesday, August 4 and 7:30 am August 5, our custom Greenspeed tandem trike was taken from our front porch.

This is not a good thing.  We have a bike tour of France scheduled to begin in six weeks.  Loss of our bike means a major adjustment to our plans as it takes around 4 months to construct a new trike.

After completing the police report by phone, Jayne sprang into action.  Utilizing her undergraduate degree in journalism, she wrote a press release and sent it out via email to the local newspaper, TV stations, and key radio stations.  WOAI radio did a live interview with Jayne, and three TV stations aired stories on Thursday. On Friday, the San Antonio Express-News ran a nice article. The trike was spotted on Friday afternoon by an alert citizen, who notified the police.  He thought that the police didn't seem very interested, so he looked up our phone number and left a message on our home phone on Saturday (unfortunately, I was still stuck in Dallas , and couldn't immediately start searching, but after talking to the witness, at least I had a lead). 

I got back to town on Sunday morning, printed up some flyers, talked to a detective in the substation that serves the area where the trike was spotted, then started canvassing the area around noon.  There’s a convenience store at the street intersection ( Houston and Walters street, on the east side of San Antonio ), and got my first lead there from a rather intoxicated local.  He had seen that funny bike, but couldn’t remember when.  At least it’s a lead.

Within an hour, I had run into two people who had seen the trike in a nearby neighborhood, so I adjusted my search.  One of the people I talked with during the canvassing of the new area suggested that I check a local pawn shop.  The pawn shop confirmed that a woman had attempted to pawn the trike on Saturday morning, but they had declined to buy it because the pawner's story seemed a bit suspicious (gee, don't these people read the paper?). 

Continuing my canvass of the pawn shop neighborhood, I found several witnesses who had seen the trike in the last couple of days - usually in the evening.  One guy suggested that I join him on his porch and just wait and see if it turned up.  I thought it was as good idea, so I went to the corner convenience store to pick up a six pack of beer (no sense in sitting around on a hot evening without some beer).  While waiting in line, I struck up a conversation with three local teenagers and asked if they had seen the trike.  One of them says "Yeah, a guy tried to sell it to me yesterday for $200."  I say, "you wouldn't happen to know where he lives, do you?"  "Oh yeah, I got his address right here in my cell phone." (It's only a couple of blocks away, so I cruise by - don't see the trike, but there are people there who meet the description of the riders.)

After a quick call to the cops, a couple of officers show up, drop by the suspect's house, he opens his garage, there's the trike. When I pull up to the house to identify the trike, the guy says "I'm sorry. I knew it was stolen." (His story was that two guys had driven by his house at 2:30 am and offered the trike to him for $80, but they took the $40 that he offered.  In Texas, possession of property that you know is stolen falls under the category of theft and is punishable by state jail time.) The guy's got an outstanding felony warrant, so he's off to jail.

The trike has a bit of damage, but nothing that can't be repaired.

The thief pleads guilty and is sentenced to six months in jail.