Beloved bicycle returned
Local woman’s ride recovered by bike shop worker 10 months after its theft
On Friday evening (July 10), Mike Lee, an employee at Greenline Cycles, was bringing bikes displayed on the sidewalk back inside, preparing to close the downtown shop, when he saw someone riding a bicycle his way.
“A few months ago, I had caught the same exact guy on my friend’s bike that was stolen,” Lee said. “I recognized him, so I stepped in front of him and stopped him. I said, ‘Whose bike are you on today?’”
Lee actually had had his eye out for this particular bike, previously owned by Kimberly Perkins. “Her bike is very particular and her husband is a friend of mine, so I knew the bike as soon as I saw it,” he said.
Perkins’ bike was stolen on Oct. 12 outside of The Graduate on West Eighth Street. She filed a police report, but was told at the time that finding her bike was unlikely. But nine months later, Perkins got her beloved ride back—thanks to Lee, a member of the local cycling community that’s been on high alert as Chico’s long-running bike theft problem has, by many accounts, reached unprecedented heights in recent months.
For Perkins, the bike in question had a lot of sentimental value; it was a custom, full-carbon-fiber ride she spent a year buying parts for and piecing together with her husband. Plus, the couple had sold their second car and Perkins’ bike had become her only mode of transporation.
“It’s a unique bike, there’s not another one in Chico like it,” she said. “I was devastated; it wasn’t just a physical object. You can replace a bike, but there was this attachment to it.”
Perkins had since kept her eyes peeled around town and searched for her bike on Craigslist in Chico, Davis and Reno. So when she got a call from her husband saying her bike was at Greenline, she went straight over.
Before Perkins got to the shop, Lee’s confrontation with the bike thief escalated.
“He said, ‘Don’t touch my bike,’ then he wanted to fight me and I told him, ‘No, we’re calling the cops,’” Lee said. Then the rider jumped off the bike to get the cops himself, flagging down a police officer near City Plaza.
“He thought the law was on his side,” Perkins said.
When Perkins arrived, the thief was handcuffed on the curb. And there, after so long, was her bike—the wheels had been changed and some parts were dinged up, but Perkins knew right away it was hers.
“He kept saying that he had just purchased the bike for $150 and was doing this whole song and dance,” Perkins said, “and I just started crying at this point because I was so excited to see my bike.”
A flier asking citizens to look out for her stolen bike was still hanging inside the store. Because she’d filed a police report, and the Greenline employees knew her bike well, the police handed it over. (The thief wasn’t arrested because of his claim of purchasing the bike.)
“The credit goes to Greenline and the Chico Police Department,” Perkins said. “I wouldn’t have it back if it wasn’t for them and for them wanting to step in and do what was right.”
Even though Perkins had purchased a replacement bike as soon as hers was stolen last October, she always hoped she’d find her favorite ride.
“When I heard they found it, there was a drop of anger wondering who had it this whole time,” she said. “Then it was mostly gratitude and relief and shock, a lot of shock. I had a feeling I would get it back.”