It is rare that a stolen bike is returned to its rightful owner, even in today’s modern age where social media can spread the word far and wide.
It seemed as though this would be another case last week when we reported on a thief stealing a $5,000 road bike on a test ride and never returning.
The man had casually walked into The Cyclist Bike Shop in Costa Mesa, California looking and sounding like a genuinely interested customer.
He completed a few laps of the car park giving the BH Ultralight EVO Disc a gentle test, before reconvening with shop owner Anthony Karambellas to ask about potential bike fitting procedures.
He then remounted the bike and headed out of the car park, sprinting up the side of a busy adjacent road, into oncoming traffic and around the corner.
However, in an astounding turn of events and against all odds this wasn’t the last time Karambellas would see the bandit.
Speaking to abc7, Karambellas revealed he received a phone call from an unexpected source.
“The person who stole the bike was on the phone and wanted to speak with us,” he said.
After half an hour on the phone with Paul Verdugo Jr, Karambellas agreed to meet him at the scene of the crime; lo and behold along with the stolen bike in question.
“He came into the shop and I greeted him at the front door shook his hand, he had the bike. I was blown away that it was the bike. I was blown away that he actually came here,” Karambellas said.
However, it wasn’t just Karambellas there to give Verdugo and the $5,000 bike a warm welcome, but also the Costa Mesa Police who charged Verdugo with grand theft and identity theft, having used a stolen ID to test the bike in the first place.
It’s safe to assume that the bike is no longer worth five thousand dollars, but Karambellas is happy to have the bike back in his hands.
“It pedals, we’re thrilled that it’s in good a condition as it is.”