My wife’s beloved bicycle, Miss Ruby as she’s known, once was lost, but now she’s found.
The 2013 Specialized Ruby model was — and now is again — my wife’s friend and therapist. Allison is a chaplain at Columbus Hospice, so she ministers to the dying and their families, which is emotionally exhausting work. Her bicycle is how she gets away from everything, and it’s good exercise, too.
That is until some lowlife stole Miss Ruby, setting off more than a week of amateur and professional sleuthing that ended happily on Saturday.
This saga all started on March 2, when my wife’s bike either fell off her car rack or was taken off it. We’ll probably never know which, but whatever, somebody had taken her. Miss Ruby was gone, and Allison was distraught.
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Allison filed a police report, and began doing some sleuthing of her own. She and Miss Ruby are well known in the cycling community and at most of the bike shops around town. She called a few and one of them said a scruffy looking character had indeed tried to sell a gray Specialized Ruby model, but they’d sent him on his way. A couple of nearby pawn shops said much the same thing and gave the same scruffy description.
The police now had a description of the thief and had put the word out to all the pawn shops in town. Then sightings of Miss Ruby dried up. The thief had apparently either managed to sell her or had given up. He might have tossed her in the river, for all we knew at that point.
Then two things happened.
A friend here in Columbus called to say she had seen a skinny white guy with a beard and tattoos riding Ruby out on Bradley Park Drive, and he looked pretty awkward doing it. As well he might, because Ruby, like most good road bikes, has pedals that require bike shoes with special cleats that snap into them, locking you to the bike.
Allison told the police about the sighting, but by that time the dude had obviously pedaled awkwardly away.
Then a college friend from Allison’s days up at Berry College called. She had been following the saga on Facebook and had decided to scour Craigslist for Ruby. Allison had been doing that, but had pretty much given up on it. Thank goodness that Amanda, 2,500 miles away, didn’t.
She called to say she thought she’d seen Miss Ruby on the popular sellers’ website. So Allison looked up the bike on Craig’s List and sure enough, it was Miss Ruby. So she emailed the guy, said she was interested in possibly buying the bike and set up a meeting for Saturday at 3 p.m. in a local shopping center parking lot.
Then she called the detective she’d been working with, and he said he’d have a couple of female officers meet the guy in plain clothes and pretend to be her and a friend. He advised us to be there, but to stay at a distance until the “transaction” had been made.
So there we were, seated in an SUV and waiting for the bad guy and the good gals to show up. Right at 3 p.m., about 50 yards away, the two vehicles drove up and stopped. The guy got Miss Ruby out of his SUV as the women got out of their pickup truck. The women looked over the bike and one of them rode it around in a circle a few times.
“I’m looking at Miss Ruby!” Allison posted on Facebook as it was happening.
Then we were somewhat shocked when the women got back in their pickup and just drove away with Miss Ruby still in the possession of the bad guy.
I had to almost restrain my wife from getting out and going after the guy.
But as soon as the women were out of sight, a patrol car, with lights blazing, pulled up right behind the guy’s SUV and an unmarked police SUV pulled up in front of him, trapping him. Four uniformed officers spilled out and took care of business.
After a while, a police sergeant who had joined the gathering called Allison’s cell and told us to pull up about 50 feet away from the scene and he’d hand over Ruby.
As it turned out, they didn’t arrest the guy. He didn’t come close to matching the description that several people had given of the thief. He told police he had bought the bike off another website and was just trying to make a buck. He’d paid $450 and was asking $650. His description of the guy he bought it from matched the scruffy dude.
“That was fine with me,” Allison said. “My main focus was always getting my bike back.”
So Allison got her beloved Miss Ruby back, one guy learned a $450 lesson, and the cops are still looking for the scruffy, skinny white dude with a beard and tattoos, who is probably on foot.
You can read Allison’s blog on Miss Ruby’s adventure here.