J. Chris Stoll from Cambridge, Massachussetts
J. Chris Stoll
I had foolishly left my bike unlocked and unguarded on a quiet, safe back street at a garage where I was picking up my car after it had be maintenanced. I figured, eh, I'll only be 5 minutes - in and out. There are many times when I feel like I'm being paranoid because I'm locking up the bike for a 2-minute pitstop at a convenience store, for example. Well, I came out of the office about 10 minutes later, and thought, "Didn't I have a bike?" I drove around for a half-hour trying to spot the scoundrel who had my bike, to no avail (not really knowing what I'd do if by some chance I found the culprit). After my unsuccessful search, I figured that the bike was long gone. I remembered that it had the NBR stickers on it, but didn't bother reporting it because I thought I'd get a hard time about not having locked the bike. I also thought that the jerk who took it would simply rip the sticker off, rendering the bike untrackable. I didn't even call the police - they're not going to be able to help me, I thought. The theft was particularly annoying since, at the time, I lived in the city, and my bike was my reliable source of transportation, especially in commuting to work - far less trouble to park and cheaper than a car, and quite often faster than public transportation.
Months later, with my $500 Trek 930 a distant memory, I received a call from a representative from the National Bike Registry, who told me that my bike had been found! Unbelievable. The rep put me in contact with the guy who actually had my bike. Apparently his girlfriend, who lived in the town in which my bike was stolen, was the victim of a bicycle theft. In the process of stealing her bike, the thief left mine. The couple noticed the NBR sticker, and they took it upon themselves to call it in, and a few weeks later I was riding my bike again. The lock was still in its holder on the bike. (I haven't located the key yet - it might have been thrown out a while back in disgust.)
When I registered my bike with the NBR and submitted my $25, I thought that it seemed like a good thing to do, but it's probably a waste of money and nothing will ever come of it. Not to overstate my enthusiasm, but the whole event restored a little bit of my faith in humanity. But now I will lock my bike for even the shortest time, wherever I might be. And I will continue my relationship with the National Bike Registry. I recommend to anybody who cares at all about their bike to register it with the NBR!
J. Chris Stoll