Henry Grabar is a staff writer for Slate’s Moneybox and a former fellow at CityLab. He lives in New York.
Next time you think about stealing a bike, remember Jake Gillum.
In the '70s, the Death Wish franchise gave us Charles Bronson as a heat-packing CPA murdering muggers in the New York City subway.
Today's spokesman for vigilante justice, the bike-robbed Jake Gillum of Portland, Oregon, packs a bit less heat. After his $2,500 carbon-fiber Fuji was stolen, Gillum got mad, and then he got even. He found the seller on Craigslist, drove to Seattle - "land of the stolen bicycle" - and disguising his cellphone number (a Portland area code would have set off an alarm) caught the seller in a sting operation in a local strip mall. His friends provided back-up, calling the police as Gillum confronted the guy trying to flip his bike, identified in the NY Daily News as Craig Ackerman. A medium-speed chase ensued, and Ackerman ended up in the back of a police cruiser.
Most importantly, they filmed it all in the instant classic "Bike Thief Gets Owned." The closest thing to a catchphrase we could find was: "This is why you don't steal from bicyclists! Because we care about our rides!"
Source: Simon Jackson/YouTube.
Top image: Flickr user DPWK.